Depression in the Elderly



Depression can be defined as a state of anxiety, sadness, hopelessness, and worthlessness (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2011). It can affect people across all ages, who present with diverse signs and symptoms (Blatt, 2004). It has been shown that there are different types of depression, which require unique approaches with regard to diagnosis and treatment (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2011).

This paper aims at discussing how a person would know whether a relative had clinical depression or was sad due to specific changes or losses in life. It also focuses on highlighting the behaviors that could indicate that a person undergoing depression requires therapy. Finally, it offers recommendations with regard to therapy and the consequence of such a therapy in the elderly.

Clinical depression or typical depression

It would be important to determine whether a relative had clinical depression or was sad because of changes in life. This would help in determining the course of action in treatment.

Clinical depression persists in a patient longer than the other type of depression and it makes an individual not carry out his or her daily activities in a normal way. The following signs would characterize a relative suffering from clinical depression (Blatt, 2004; Kail & Cavanaugh, 2011):

  • Insomnia or hypersomnia
  • Lack of appetite
  • Changed concentration
  • Restlessness
  • Fatigue
  • Worthlessness
  • Considerable weight loss or gain
  • Persistent suicidal thoughts

On the other hand, depression that is caused by changes or losses in life does not last long and there are no severe symptoms that could guarantee medications (Blatt, 2004). In fact, this type of depression can be resolved through the application of counselling.

Thus, it would be important to assess whether a relative encountered major changes in life. Changes could be brought by new jobs and responsibilities, among others (Blatt, 2004). Losses could be due to the death of a close family member or friend and loss of job, among others.

Forms of behavior

It is important to note the behaviors in a person undergoing depression that imply that he or she requires therapy (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2011). Most importantly, clinical depression should be treated when detected so that a person cannot result in life-threatening acts such as committing suicide. The following behaviors would indicate that a person requires therapy:

  • Abrupt change of mood patterns
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Hopelessness
  • Prolonged anxiety
  • Considerable weight loss or gain
  • Social withdrawal signs

Therapy and the consequence

A student would recommend the use of antidepressant medications aimed at curing the symptoms of a depressed patient (Kail & Cavanaugh, 2011). However, they would be selected based on behavior patterns that would be present in a patient.

Specifically, monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), which treat depression by blocking the enzyme monoamine oxidase, would be recommended. Examples of the medications are phenelzine and isocarboxazid. The medicines would be suggested because they have fast modes of therapeutic activities (Henry et al., 2007).

The consequence of administering the drugs is that they would adversely react with other drugs and some types of food (Henry et al., 2007). In order to avoid the consequence, it would be important to tell a patient the drugs that he or she would not use while using the antidepressants. In addition, aged cheese and meats should be avoided.


Blatt, S. J. (2004). Experiences of depression: Theoretical, clinical, and research perspectives. New York, NY: American Psychological Association.

Henry, C., M’Baïlara, K., Poinsot, R., Casteret, A. A., Sorbara, F., Leboyer, M., & Vieta, E. (2007). Evidence for two types of bipolar depression using a dimensional approach. Psychotherapy and psychosomatics, 76(6), 325-331.

Kail, R. V., & Cavanaugh, J. C. (2011). Human Development: A Life-Span View: A Life- Span View. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.

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