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Focusing on Adults 50+ in Mesa, Delta, Montrose and Garfield Counties

Depression is not a normal part of aging

May 21, 2012, 12:46 p.m.

By Janey Sorensen

Depression affects more than 19 million Americans every year, regardless of age, race, or gender. While depression is not a normal part of the aging process, there is a strong likelihood of it occurring when other physical health conditions are present. For example, nearly a quarter of the 600,000 people who experience a stroke in a given year will experience clinical depression.

Unfortunately, symptoms of depression are often overlooked and untreated when they coincide with other medical illnesses or life events that commonly occur as people age (e.g., loss of loved ones). However, clinical depression is never a “normal” response. It is a serious medical illness that should be treated no matter the person’s age.

Prevalence

• More than 2 million of the 34 million Americans, age 65 and older, suffer from some form of depression.

Co-occurring illnesses

• Symptoms of clinical depression can be triggered by other chronic illnesses that are common later in life, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, cancer and arthritis.

Widowhood

• One-third of widows/widowers meet criteria for depression in the first month after the death of their spouse. Half of them remain clinically depressed after one year.

Health care costs

• Older patients with symptoms of depression have roughly 50 percent higher health care costs than non-depressed seniors.

Fortunately, clinical depression is a very treatable illness. More than 80 percent of all people with depression can be successfully treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both, according to Mental Health America.

Do you know someone suffering from depression? Call the Center for Mental Health at 252-3200 or visit our website at www.centermh.org.

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