- Dr. Kurien S. Thomas
Effective Living Inc.
Generally, depression is frequently undiagnosed and untreated because it is often overlooked or considered normal or inevitable. Though depression can strike anyone in life at anytime, it is noticed that as one enters old age the number of times at which depression strikes is much more than during the early years of their life. The factors can be many or varied. It could be medical condition or life events. It could also be due to irresponsible behaviour of family members towards them or rather unrealistic expectations of love and care from the loved ones. Though depression is not a normal behaviour of aging process it is rarely or poorly recognized even by physicians. The exact reasons of sinking into the sea of depression can be many which is still not understood in the finest sense. The diagnosis of depression is not recoganized at a preliminary stage and therefore when the situation gets grave the severity of symptoms are noticed and medical attention sorted. Mild or not major kind of depression can be treated by a psychotherapist who does not include medicating the depressed individual but helps in getting out of depression on their own. When this treatment does not prove to be beneficial, psychotherapist would refer the individuals to a psychiatrist for medical attention. Many older patients have responded well to psychotherapy, whereas those individual with moderate to severe depression may require antidepressant medication. It has been noticed that the outcome of the combination mild medication along with psychotherapy for certain depression cases among older individuals have been a sure cure. The most common noticeable symptom of depression is changes in mood at frequent intervals. They may exhibit nervousness, restlessness, irritability, feeling of being unloved, vacuum in their heart, lack of interest in personal care, forgetting medications, anxiety, neglecting personal hygiene, sometimes they themselves do not know the real reason of being depressed. Such patients may exhibit loss or reduced appetite, weight loss, insomnia, fatigue, feeling lonely even though there are people around who could communicate, loss of memory, some memory problems and at times confusion among understanding or relating certain things. At times these patients may complain for frequent joint pains and aches. Many times it has been observed that it is not a physical problem but mind that behaves in this manner due to depression. Depression is most common in women especially when they are not able to carry out the duties and responsibilities they used to while they were not so old. Men too exhibit depression behaviour when they want to remain active but physical conditions do not permit. It has also been observed that older men sink into depression when they realize reduced masculinity index in them. Men who retire also get depressed. I recall Mr. Rahul Bajaj, Chairman of Bajaj group of companies say in an interview ‘those men who retire are mad’. I understand, perhaps he said it in the context of depression that men suffer after retirement. Many old age men who come to me at Effective Living Inc’s psychotherapy and counselling clinic lament about not getting enough respect or attention after retirement which leads them to depression.
The depressive symptoms such as frequent crying, sadness, grief is natural and healthy response to bereavement, many times grief is misinterpreted as depression. There is a normal behaviour between a grief reaction and one that leads to depression. One cannot measure the time or extend to which an individual can grieve, but signals of grief turning into depression can be noticed and that needs quick attention. Family support plays a major role in combating depression in elders.
10 commandments that could aid to combat or prevent depression in elderly individuals are:
Keep physically moving (indoor and / or outdoor)
Keep connected with loved ones via phone and or sms / email
Keep good personal hygiene and dress well
Keep reminders of medications if any
Keep a balanced healthy diet
Keep a time table for all your activities and keep time slots of social cause
Keep a diary to note that you would like to note
Keep exercising at least in a small way
Keep updating via news papers and or television
Keep the smile on your face
In fact, there is no mystery with depression and elderly individuals and is in many ways very similar to depression faced during midlife or quarter-life crisis.
Dr.Kurien S. Thomas is a writer, columnist, orator, corporate trainer, psychotherapist, yoga therapist & counsellor; Founder & Executive Director of Effective Living Inc., a global counselling, k yoga & stress management clinic, which has a unique approach to psychotherapy, counselling, yoga therapy & wellness therapy. He also conducts seminars and workshops for corporate, schools, colleges and various organisations.
His personal / online counselling on family issues, teenagers, parenting, health issues, obesity, slimming, alcoholism and other issues has been a boon to many with 100 % confidentiality assured.
For more details and appointments write to him at firstname.lastname@example.org or call at: +91-0-9969105310 or +91-0-9987223811. Website: http://www.effectivelivingonline.com/
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