Depression in Older Adults: Causes and Treatment


Depression is the most common mental disorder among the elderly. One in seven people in old age suffers from depression. According to medical statistics, 13 percent of older adults have symptoms of melancholy. It is possible that depression is a widespread issue among the elderly, but clinical depression is not a normal part of aging. In fact, studies indicate that most seniors are satisfied with their lives, even though they have more illnesses or physical difficulties than younger people.

Reasons for the Development of Depression

The main factors in the progression of depressive disorder in old age are traumatic life events, lifestyle, and chronic illness. Symptoms of depression are often hidden under general ill feelings, health complaints, chronic fatigue, and bad moods. Therefore, relatives may not realize for a long time that a loved one has a serious problem and needs to consult a specialist. Depression in an elderly individual is significantly different from melancholy at a younger age (Taylor et al., 2018). Older people avoid demonstratively expressing “suffering,” do not complain, and, for the most part, are not able to identify the presence of a depressive state themselves.

The symptoms of depression often disappear as other illnesses; a person may have heart or intestinal pain or complain of a meteorological sensitivity or headaches. It is difficult for non-specialists to diagnose these features of a mental disorder. The most common problems of the elderly that can cause depression are the loss of a spouse or significant other health problems. It is also primarily diseases that limit physical activity and ability to self-care, nervous system illnesses, loss of social contacts, and financial challenges. Long-term reception of some medications can lead to iatrogenic (pharmacogenetic) depression.

Almost half of the elderly population is diagnosed with cerebral ischemia, which in most cases is accompanied by depression. The relatives often perceive such illnesses and the accompanying depressed mental state of the senior person as inevitable, a normal process of aging and fading (Taylor et al., 2018). However, gerontologists are convinced that brain diseases need to be treated at any age, even at the most advanced age. Frequently, the impetus for the emergence of depression is a stroke or heart attack and the development of diseases associated with the degradation of cognitive functions, dementia, and Alzheimer’s disease.

Methods for Treating Depression

Despite the many factors that cause depression in seniors, it is a real illness, and it is treatable by medical means, not a normal part of aging. Relatives should recognize depression in older adults in time and encourage the person to obtain medical care and adhere to the treatment plan that the physician prescribes. It may also be essential to schedule medical appointments or accompany the individual to a doctor’s office or support group. It is also imperative to consider that older adults tend to be less inclined to make lifestyle changes and may be reluctant to adopt new habits. Accordingly, a psychologist who specializes in aging issues can be engaged to help adapt an individualized strategy for combating depression. If not treated for depression, it will be a serious challenge later in life (Taylor et al., 2018).

The disease will worsen many medical states, affect the quality of life, and lead to alcohol and illicit drug use. Depression has also increased the risk of death in those who move into nursing homes or recover from a stroke or heart attack.


In this way, depression often appears in older people and negatively affects their health. Also, depression is an illness to be overcome, not a familiar attribute of aging. Though this problem is often ignored, older people need to be treated. Moreover, examining one’s own body will allow people with conditions that provoke sadness, such as stroke, vascular dementia, and coronary heart disease, to help prevent depression.


Taylor, H. O., Taylor, R. J., Nguyen, A. W., & Chatters, L. (2018). Social isolation, depression, and psychological distress among older adults. Journal of aging and health, 30(2), 229-246.

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PsychologyWriting. 2023. "Depression in Older Adults: Causes and Treatment." September 2, 2023.

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PsychologyWriting. "Depression in Older Adults: Causes and Treatment." September 2, 2023.