Depression is not a normal part of ageing

Depression is not a normal part of ageing

Depression is not a normal part of ageing. It’s an illness that can have serious consequences if it isn’t recognised and treated. Depression is often not well recognised or detected in older people.

Symptoms such as sadness, sleep and appetite problems or mood changes may be dismissed as a ‘normal’ part of ageing. These symptoms may also be confused with other conditions such as dementia.

Depression can damage a person’s quality of life and their relationships with friends and family. Severe depression can be life threatening as a risk factor for suicidal thoughts and suicide.

 Depression is often not recognised in older people

Symptoms of depression that would cause concern in a younger person, such as insomnia or social withdrawal, may be disregarded in older people as ‘just old age’. People also sometimes assume that problems with memory or concentration are due to age-related changes in thinking, rather than being due to depression. Older people may also find it difficult to talk about feeling sad or depressed. Depression can affect memory and concentration, particularly in elderly people.

Depression is not a normal part of ageing

Older people do not necessarily suffer higher rates of depression. Recent surveys have found older people in good health and living in their own home have lower rates of depression than people of younger age groups. However, the incidence of depression was higher in older people who were in poor health, living in a care facility or nursing home, or who were otherwise isolated.

Situations such as illness, disability, loss and loneliness are more common for older people. It is normal to grieve when faced with loss or illness, but depression is a more severe and persistent sadness. It is not a normal reaction to these events and should always be investigated and treated appropriately.

Be aware - download the fact sheet here

Australia and New Zealand Mental Health Association Inc

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