Recognizing the Symptoms of Depression in Your Parent

As an adult, it often becomes imperative to recognize how the health of your parents is changing. For older adults, one of the most common conditions suffered through is depression. If you’re concerned that your mother or father may be suffering from depression, here are a few of the warning signs that you should be looking for.

In most cases, recognizing depression in an older adult can be problematic. Most people who suffer from depression don’t automatically threaten suicide. It is usually entangled with physical ailments, and many friend and family members wrongly believe that the feelings of depression will automatically cease once the parent becomes better. In actuality, the many medicines that older adults take often have side effects that can mask depressive symptoms, making the depression harder and harder to treat. So sometimes a simple question of “are you all right” will be answered with an honest “yes”.

It is also important to realize that the symptoms of depression for an older adult is often much different than those for a younger adult. Often expressions of frustration, irritability, and prolonged sadness are indications that the depression experienced by your parent may be more problematic than first realized. For example, while depression after the death of a spouse is normal, a prolonged sense of sadness that goes well beyond what is considered normal may indicate a case of clinical depression.

The best way to gauge symptoms, especially when they can be so subjective, is to have a conversation with your parent on a regular basis. Ask them non-judgmental questions. Ask them how they are feeling, or try and see what their interest levels are like for everyday activities. Check to see if your Mom still enjoys her weekly bridge game, or if your father still likes to watch every sport report from the evening news. If you see changes in their attitude, or if they no longer enjoy activities that they previously were passionate about, it may indicate depression.

By learning how to recognize the symptoms of depression in an older adult, you can possibly help your parent in ways that neither of you realized was possible. Depression is one of the most common conditions suffered by older adults, and it can be treated once it is recognized for what it is.