Recognizing the symptoms of depression in an elderly patient can be at times hard for many nurses such as myself, because sometimes the elderly person may be accompanied by family members and the family may for the most part want to monopolize the information that is given to the physician or to the nurse.
However, if the right questions are asked and a complete physical and medical history has been documented on the patient, a diagnosis of depression can still be obtained.
The warning signs that may be suggestive of depression are:
If a patient or family member talks of the patient having changed their normal habits to that of now exhibiting less interest in doing things or seemingly having less energy in which to want to do things, such as they state they just don’t want to get out and would rather stay at home than do the things they normally enjoyed doing.
If the elderly person has sustained a substantial weight loss or gain that is not consistent with a symptom of an illness and more suspect of them either having less of an appetite such as they just don’t want to get up and fix anything and would rather not eat than say come to dinner with the family.
Noticeable changes in mood such as the patient feels less like dealing with crowds or has less patience with things, they tend to get aggravated more often. Especially when the things they now get agitated with doing are things they once liked participating in.
Lack of energy which they contribute to not sleeping well or they have stated they sleep more often than usual and still can’t find the energy at which to do their normal activities.
The patient responds to questions with not wanting to burden anyone or their inability to do things makes them seem worthless and they feel guilty for having to ask for help with things.
Patient loses the ability to concentrate on things and complains of their decreased ability to think or make decisions like they use to.
Makes statements implying their hopes to die soon so as to not burden anyone or they are just tired of things in general and hope to die soon and get out of their misery.
Does the elderly person have chronic diseases that they feel they can’t recover from or feel as though have put a burden on their finances or that of the family.
Patient and family exhibit stressful home or living environment, especially dysfunction environment in the immediate family causing undo stress and problems on the senior patient.
Multiple vague excuses with symptoms of hurting all over or don’t really know what exactly is the problem just aches and pains pawned off as normal aches and pains.
Some medications as well as some illnesses and conditions make someone feel depressed, such as a infections and hypothyroidism. It is therefore important for nurses and physicians to make every effort to make sure that the patient isn’t taking anything that can be associated with their depression.
References for this article include: www.medicinenet.com/depression_in_the_elderly/article.htm