Depression Signs and Awareness By Katie M. Mills, Community Member
Depression is one of those things that isn’t talked about too often or brought up at the dinner table. But, its presence is all around us. If you haven’t experienced a depressive episode of your own, you probably know a family member, a neighbor, or a friend who has been affected by depression. Depression amongst the older adult population is a very relevant issue for people to be aware of. Recent estimates have found 6.5% to 9% of older adults meet the criteria for major depressive disorder (MDD) and 10% to 25% experience depressive symptoms that significantly affect their lives but fall just below the criteria for MDD. Given the prevalence of depression amongst the older adult population it is imperative that older adults and their families understand and can successfully identify symptoms of depression. Depression can take many different forms and it presents differently from one individual to another. Despite this diversity, some of the predominant symptoms include depressed mood, decreased interest or pleasure in activities, considerable loss or gain of weight, difficulty falling or staying asleep, or sleeping more than usual. Other symptoms include reduced ability to concentrate, loss of energy, thoughts of worthlessness, and in extreme cases, thoughts of suicide. If you are a senior or if you know a senior who may be experiencing depression, Wilshire Community Services’ “Clearings” program provides free depression screening and resource referral. If you are simply looking for a caring, nonjudgmental person to talk with then Wilshire Community Services’ Senior Peer Counseling Program may be a good resource for you. Senior Peer Counseling is composed of trained volunteers over the age of 55 who provide support and can help seniors navigate the challenges of grief, loss, depression, and other life changes. More information about both of these programs can be found at www.wilshirecommunityservices.org.