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Seek Help for Depression

Depression can look differently, depending on age.

Many know the signs of depression early in life—moodiness (or feeling “blue”), irritability, and sometimes anxiety. But the symptoms of depression change as people age. For people who are 50 and older, the symptoms of depression can be more easily confused with the symptoms of a busy life.

Especially for those coping with raising teens and caring for elderly parents, the symptoms of depression can sneak up on you, according to Amy Edwards, MD, medical director of Memorial’s psychiatric services. These include:
  • Sleep problems.
  • Memory or functional impairment.
  • Diminished interest in regular activities.
  • Social withdrawal.
“It’s normal to have a bad day, or even a few, following a stressful event or receiving difficult news. But when that bad day stretches into a month, and you find yourself not wanting to get up—or when your weight changes by 25 pounds—help is just a phone call away,” Dr. Edwards says.

She says that as the body ages various things—including a change in sleep patterns, prescription and drug interactions, alcohol, and even diet—can trigger depression.

If left untreated, depression can trigger physical pain, such as stomachaches, and unexplained memory loss.

Treatments have advanced significantly in the past 20 years. As more people are becoming aware of the underlying biology, the stigma once associated with correcting a chemical imbalance is diminishing.

Dr. Edwards advises people to seek help from a medical professional. “Having a couple glasses of wine can start out as an innocent attempt at self-medication to relax from a tough day. But this can become problematic in how your body balances the brain chemicals that help maintain mood and sleep,” she says. “Those who feel they could use help can call our office for a mental health checkup. We want to help people live their best lives.”
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