Seems like a weird question. Although maybe not. I just came across this study from The British Journal of Psychiatry, October 2019. The study shows that for elderly people, the rates of antidepressants prescribed by doctors went from 7.4% from 1990-1993 to 29.2% in 2008-2011. This was especially true in care homes.
Does that mean more elderly people are becoming depressed?
The study found no overall increase in depression rates. However, the researchers also concluded:
“We can’t infer that older patients are prescribed antidepressants unnecessarily”.
One reason for the increase may be to use antidepressants to treat other disorders such as neuropathy or sleep problems.
Antidepressants Have Their Place
Antidepressants also add to the list of medications many elderly people take every day. When people take 8-10 medications at once, often the combination of factors is not known.
By no means am I trying to second guess doctors. There may be other reasons for these prescriptions. What I am trying to say is that medical professionals seem to be prescribing anti-depressants A LOT to the elderly. I want to let you know about antidepressants. That way you can have an informed discussion with your doctor.
There seems to be a lot of worry and anxiety with the Pandemic situation. Understandably so. That worry and anxiety may lead to depression in the elderly. Especially if they are locked down in a nursing home.
Optimally, antidepressants and psychotherapy work well together to help depression. However, the elderly very often only receive the antidepressants.
Some of the problems and side effects associated with antidepressants include:
- Increased risk of Type 2 diabetes
- Thicker arteries leading to higher chance of heart disease or stroke
- Dementia advancement
- Risks of osteoperosis, falls and fractures
Well that list may be enough to give you depression even if you don’t have it already! I don’t mean to scare you. Just give you some information to discuss with your doctor.
Alternative Therapies for Helping Depression
Hopefully your doctor agrees that maybe it’s worth discussing some antidepressant alternatives. There are some more natural alternatives. Obviously severe depression should be handled clinically. And it is important to talk to your doctor if you or your family member is experiencing signs of depression. However, for some milder forms, there may be non-medical ways to help it.
We suggested some ideas for combatting depression in another blog post. And here are some other suggestions.
A positive change in your lifestyle might be just the ticket. One big aid to fighting depression seems to be exercise. A study of seniors found that 80% of elderly people who engaged in strength training showed a significant reduction in symptoms of depression after working out for 10 weeks.
After all, who would be depressed if they had that beach body to show off?
Other lifestyle changes that can help depression are to eat a healthier diet, work on having a restful night’s sleep every night, and spending time in the sun soaking up that Vitamin D. Oh and just expressing gratitude for all the good things in your life can make a difference.
For example – let me end this blog post by saying how much I appreciate you subscribing to my emails and sharing in helping the elderly.