Watch for standard symptoms of depression, as well as these symptoms common among the elderly suffering from depression. 

  • Complaints of aches and pains (back, stomach, arms, legs, head, chest), fatigue, slowed movements and speech, loss of appetite, inability to sleep, weight increase or decrease, blurred vision, dizziness, heart racing, anxiety.
  • Inability to concentrate, remember or think straight (sometimes mistaken for dementia).  An overall sadness, or apathy, withdrawn, uable to find pleasure in anything.
  • Irritability, mood swings or constant complaining: nothing seems to make the person happy.
  • Talk of worthlessness, not being needed anymore, excessive and unqarranted guilt.
  • Frequent doctor visits without relief in symptoms, all tests come out negative.
  • Alcoholism can mask an underlying depression.

A complete physical examination to rule out other problems is critical before a diagnosi of depression is made.  Depression is treatable and suicide can be prevented.  Family physicians, clinics and health maintenance organizations can provide treatment or make referrals to mental health specialists.  Mental health specialists like psychiatrists, psychologists, family therapists and social workers.  Psychiatrist can prescribe antidepressant drugs because they are physicians.  Community mental health centers often provide treatment based on the patient's ability to pay, and usually have a variety of mental health specialists.  Hospitals and university medical schols may have research centers that study and treat depression.  Calling 911 or goind to a hospital emergency room are options.  You can also contact the National Sucide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Portions taken from the National Institute of Mental Health Booklet.  Premission to reprint from Public Health Corps.