Sunday, March 15, 2009

Coping with old age depression

Managing stress among elderly
Managing depression at old age
Coping with old age depression

Mohali, March 12: Coping with old age depression is a particular challenge for elderly individuals. Especially in situations when materialism and market driven set of social circumstances are driving individuals to unbearable levels of depression, partly because of loneliness and partially because of other variables. However, identifying and managing depression at old age is very much possible, opines experts who offer a carefully studied guide to monitor and regulate depressive tendencies amongst elderly.

Dr Kiran Bala, Consultant Psychiatrist, Cheema Medical Complex, Mohali terms the recent suicide by senior citizens in the tri-city as a classic cases of how unaddressed mental state can play havoc with human life. The latest incident that actually sent shock waves amongst the tricity elderly and some how rekindle the deep hidden fears of many others sharing the same profile must be a catalyst to introspect, asserts Dr Kiran Bala.

Loneliness in elderly is a potent cause of extremely depressing state of mind even if such extreme steps are not resorted to by depressed individuals. Society and people around such elderly can and shall make crucial difference just as elderly themselves need to be properly informed, adds Dr Bala.

Depression emanating from death of a spouse, medical problems and bereavement are usually the trigger points for such mental states which grow into terminally suicidal tendencies. Sadness, fatigue, loosing interest in hobbies and pastimes further accentuate in form of weight loss, appetite loss, sleeping disorders and loss of self esteem. All these symptomize the suicidal tendencies which may or may not take place but can be considerably propelled by isolation, fears, reduced sense of purpose and medical problems, feels Dr Bala who offers some vital tips to safeguard against the obvious perils in old age.

Socializing, staying connected to others, cultivating hobbies and nurturing pastimes form a quintessential part of mental well being amongst elderly. Exercising, learning new skills, scheduling regular social interactions and taking medical care are some vital aspects which must not be ignored by the elderly and the people surrounding them.

However, exhort Dr Bala that higher degrees of depression can be taken care of by anti depressants, a situation that needs medical and expert intervention to medically guide individuals and their families. Experts believe that supportive counseling by psychologists may have far reaching impact upon depressed persons as compared to anti depressants which are not effective in majority of cases. Of course, side effects and safety concerns of these drugs are again an issue, feels Dr Bala. While psychotherapy helps people work through stressful life changes, heal from losses, and process difficult emotions, Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) helps people change negative thinking patterns and develop better coping skills, concludes Dr Bala.

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