Depression and Seniors

Depression affects people of all ages, but as we grow older, stressful life changes can hit harder and more often. The death of a close friend or family member can change our lives overnight. Taking care of an ill relative or having problems with our own health can cause stress.

Sometimes we are left feeling numb. We find little joy in life, and tend to take a less active role in events around us. We can fall into depression without knowing what is happening to us.

What Is Depression?

Depression is an illness and has both physical and mental symptoms that happen at the same time. It's time to take action when symptoms last for 2 weeks or more, and are getting in the way of normal activities.

Signs of Depression

If you're experiencing several of the following signs of depression, or noticing them in family members or close friends, it might be time to seek professional help. Signs of depression include:

Sometimes it's easier to notice these signs in others than in ourselves. If a friend or family member has signs of depression, keep encouraging them to get help.

Grief and Depression

If you've suffered a personal loss, you may have the same symptoms as someone who is depressed. Sometimes grief turns into depression.

Whether a person who is grieving needs professional help depends on how long symptoms last and how bad they are. A person should seek help if grieving gets in the way of normal activities for several months. If you're unsure whether to get help, talk with your doctor or call Behavioral Health Services.

Coping Strategies

If you have any of the symptoms listed above, these coping strategies might help.

Getting Help

Try the self-care strategies to ease your symptoms of depression. If these don't work, you may need to see your doctor or make an appointment with Group Health's Behavioral Health Services.

Finding Support

Group Health's Resource Line can help you find community agencies in your area that provide support and help, such as Widowed Information and Consultation Services (WICS).

Group Health also has support groups that provide information and emotional support for people coping with grief and loss. And, there are support groups for people living with chronic conditions or who are caregivers. Chronic conditions can make a person more vulnerable to depression. These support groups include Alzheimer's disease, diabetes, cancer, lupus, stroke, low vision, and Parkinson's disease.

For more information, contact the Group Health Resource Line.


Clinical review by Greg Simon, MD
Group Health
Reviewed 03/01/2014