Losing independence often triggers depression


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Dr. Laurie Paquette of Baytree Behavioral Health says that depression is a common mental health issue.

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Depression is one of the most common mental health issues in the community and seniors who lose the ability to be independent are at a higher risk, according to Dr. Laurie Paquette of Baytree Behavioral Health in Brevard County.

“Depression symptoms vary per individual,” Paquette said. “The lack of motivation, not doing activities, not going out with friends as often and some are as severe as suicide as they don’t want to live anymore. There is definitely a range in depression.”

Changes in a loved one’s life as in moving to assisted living or a nursing home can trigger depression. Professionals can recognize the signs of depression. Caregivers and family members should note feelings of sadness, hopelessness, a pessimistic attitude, loss of interest in having lunch with friends, not exercising anymore or losing interest in activities they used to enjoy.

“Irritability is another common sign of depression,” Paquette said. “Feeling the lack of energy and neglecting your own care, not showering as often or not doing daily hygiene needs. It can affect concentration and memory as well as inability to sustain your attention or is this a good thing to do?”

Paquette cautions that physical symptoms, aches and pains, having digestion problems, heart and breathing problems can affect everybody in different ways. Family and friends and caregivers recognize depression. It is a gradual progression, and you are losing friends, your independence. Death of a spouse or something happening can trigger it.

Help is available. Some go to their primary care physician or psychiatrist for medications. Others who don’t want medications can be attentive to a routine with something to look forward to … lunch with friends, bingo every Wednesday, having tasks to complete.

“They need to make sure their mind and their body stay active as in daily exercise and accomplishing a to-do list,” Paquette said. “Those in a wheelchair are less active but can play activities like cards, bingo, games, dining out once a week and getting involved with their community and other people. They need to look forward for something to do.”

Prevention also includes six to eight hours of sleep. Even going to a therapist once a week is an event that gets them out, Paquette said. It is important to check on the seniors and elderly on a regular basis.

“It is not helpful for them if no one sees them for days or weeks on end,” Paquette said. “They will get further into their depression.”