Depression is a common mental health condition that affects many people in middle Georgia. National Depression Screening Day is held annually to educate, raise awareness, and screen individuals for depression, generalized anxiety disorder, bipolar disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, as well as offer referral for treatment.
Symptoms of depression often differ between men and women. In older people, depression symptoms like forgetfulness, trouble sleeping and changes in appetite are often mistaken for signs of aging.
No matter your age or gender, depression commonly produces feelings of sadness and a loss of interest in things once enjoyed. Knowing these and other symptoms of depression can be the first step in getting help for yourself or a loved one and is why depression screening is so important. Dr. Cesar Figueroa, M.D.
Women are about twice as likely as men to develop depression in their lifetimes, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Hormone changes during puberty, pregnancy and menopause all increase a woman's risk for developing depression. Women also react differently to stress and anxiety than men, tending to stew over things and blame themselves for their feelings. Genetics, balancing work and home, and acting as a caregiver are also depression risk factors for women.
Men suffering from depression, on the other hand, may feel ashamed or pressured to hide their feelings. Depression in men also can surface as anger, drinking too much, drug abuse, gambling or other risky behaviors that distract from or mask their feelings. That means depression can be hard to pinpoint and may be severe by the time it's recognized. This could be the reason that more men than women attempt suicide.
When people 60 or older are depressed, they rarely discuss their feelings with family, friends, caregivers or doctors. Depression in seniors is also underdiagnosed because symptoms like memory problems, slowed movements or speech, and withdrawing from society are seen as a normal part of aging. In fact, depression is not a symptom of age, though it may be a side effect of illness or medications. In those cases, treatment of the underlying illness or changing a medication can quickly improve symptoms.
Differentiating between grief and depression can be hard in older people since symptoms are similar. When a close friend or relative dies, feeling sad for a long time is normal. However, grieving people usually have moments of pleasure and happiness, while those experiencing depression constantly feel sad, empty or despairing.
Coliseum Center for Behavioral Health says depression is treatable and the symptoms of depression should not be ignored. For assessments or to make a referral, call (478) 741-1355 or (800) 548-4221. For more information visit our Behavioral Health webpage.
In recognition of National Depression Screening Day, the Coliseum Center for Behavioral Health will offer free depression screenings on Thursday, October 10. Appointments can be made by calling (478) 741-1355.