What Are the Signs of Elderly Depression?

It is estimated that 6 million adults age 65 and older are clinically depressed. But, only 10% are treated. Elderly depression goes undiagnosed because symptoms are confused with normal aging. It’s important for seniors to get the medical care they need, so they can continue to lead happy and fulfilling lives. Here’s what you need to know.

Spotting elderly depression  
Depression has many different symptoms, including physical ones. If your loved one has been experiencing several of the following symptoms for at least two weeks, they might have depression:

  • Persistent sadness or anxiety 
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in hobbies and activities
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Decreased energy   
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions
  • Difficulty sleeping, early morning awakening or oversleeping
  • Changes in appetite and/or unintended weight changes
  • Thoughts of death or attempted suicide attempts
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Aches or pains without a clear physical cause

Common triggers
As we age, we go through many significant life changes that can increase the risk for depression. These changes include:

  • Health problems: Older adults face declining health, this can be in the form of an illness, a disability, chronic pain or dementia.
  • Loneliness and isolation: Many seniors live alone or have a dwindling social circle due to deaths or relocation. In addition, older adults may not venture outdoors due to decreased mobility or a loss of driving privileges.
  • Reduced sense of purpose: After retirement, older adults may lose their identity or feel they no longer have a purpose.
  • Fear and anxiety: In our senior years, we may develop new fears or have anxiety over financial problems or health issues.
  • Recent bereavements: As adults age, they experience more losses, from spouses to dear friends, which can cause feelings of despair that are difficult to overcome.

How We Can Help

If you think your loved one may have depression, be supportive. Try to encourage them to get help. With the right treatment, older adults can lead a fulfilling life. ACCESS has behavioral health experts who can help treat depression. Make an appointment today.




National Institute of Mental Health



As of January 4, 2023