Understanding Depression Among Aging Americans

As the population of the United States ages, there is a growing need to focus on the mental health challenges faced by older adults, particularly depression. According to the Healthy Aging Program at the CDC, “Because mental health is essential to overall health, it should be treated in all Americans, including older adults, with the same urgency as physical health.”

What Factors Complicate Diagnosis?

Why is Depression Dangerous for Older Adults?

Depression is a leading risk factor for suicide. Studies show that depression and other mental health challenges can lead to suicide in older adults at alarming rates. Over the past two decades, rates of suicide among older adults in the U.S. have steadily increased.

Awareness and Prevention Can Make a Difference

Although depression can be difficult to recognize among older people, caregivers and primary care practitioners should understand that it is not a normal part of growing older, nor is it incurable.

80% of older Americans who suffer from depression could be successfully treated if they saw a physician or were properly diagnosed.10

How to Recognize and Respond

  1. Watch for warning signs:
  2. Take mentions and thoughts of suicide seriously.
  3. Consult health care professionals. They can:

Please note that this graphic is for information purposes only. Individuals should consult their healthcare professionals before following any of the information provided. Nursing@Georgetown does not endorse any organizations or websites contained in this graphic.

Sources

1http://www.aoa.acl.gov/aging_statistics/profile/2015/docs/2015-Profile.pdf
2https://www.cdc.gov/aging/pdf/cib_mental_health.pdf
3https://www.cdc.gov/aging/pdf/cib_mental_health.pdf
4http://www.cdc.gov/aging/mentalhealth/depression.htm
5http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving/info-03-2012/depression-symptoms-senior-citizens.html
6http://www.cdc.gov/aging/mentalhealth/depression.htm
7http://www.cdc.gov/aging/mentalhealth/depression.htm
8http://www.apa.org/about/gr/issues/aging/mental-health.aspx
9https://www.ncoa.org/news/resources-for-reporters/get-the-facts/healthy-aging-facts/
10http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/depression-older-adults-more-facts
11http://www.cdc.gov/aging/mentalhealth/depression.htm
12http://www.aarp.org/relationships/caregiving/info-03-2012/depression-symptoms-senior-citizens.html
13http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/older-adults-and-depression/index.shtml

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