Black Americans have endured political and financial hardships throughout history. President Donald J. Trump is just the latest example. We have and will overcome these hardships and can be depressing. Jay Harold wrote this post, “Depression is Not a Normal Part of Growing Older: 6 Resources,” to cope with day to day living in 2018.
The National Urban League expressed concerns about both the Democratic and Republican parties in 1976
Forty years ago – on February 2, 1976 – The New York Times wrote an article titled “Distress Signal,” which reported on the first edition of the National Urban League’s State of Black America report. The article noted:
“The report on the state of black America released last week by the National Urban League is a profoundly depressing document. Beyond the statistics it contains – gloomy enough by themselves – the report dramatizes a substantial failure of political leadership.
Vernon Jordan, Jr., the league’s executive director, noted that the State of the Union Message by President Ford omitted all mention of the plight of black Americans while Senator Edmund S. Muskie in his reply on behalf of the Democrats, omitted the promise of racial equality from his list of endangered American promises.
The report is replete with facts backing up the league’s conclusion that no recent year ‘has been more destructive to the progress of blacks than 19751 .’
Depression2 is a true and treatable medical condition, not a normal part of aging. However, older adults are at an increased risk of experiencing depression. If you are concerned about a loved one, offer to go with him or her to see a health care provider to be diagnosed and treated.
Depression is not just having “the blues” or the emotions we feel when grieving the loss of a loved one. It is a true medical condition that is treatable, like diabetes or hypertension.
What is depression?
Everyone feels sad or low sometimes, but these feelings usually pass with a little time. Depression—also called “clinical depression” or a “depressive disorder”—is a mood disorder that causes distressing symptoms that affect how you feel, think, and handle daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working. To be diagnosed with depression, symptoms must be present most of the day, nearly every day for at least 2 weeks.
What are the different types of depression3 ?
Two of the most common forms of depression are:
- Major depression—having symptoms of depression most of the day, nearly every day for at least 2 weeks that interfere with your ability to work, sleep, study, eat, and enjoy life. An episode can occur only once in a person’s lifetime, but more often, a person has several episodes.
- Persistent depressive disorder (dysthymia)—having symptoms of depression that last for at least 2 years. A person diagnosed with this form of depression may have episodes of major depression along with periods of less severe symptoms.
Some forms of depression are slightly different, or they may develop under unique circumstances, such as:
- Perinatal Depression: Women with perinatal depression experience full-blown major depression during pregnancy or after delivery (postpartum depression).
- Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD): SAD is a type of depression that comes and goes with the seasons, typically starting in the late fall and early winter and going away during the spring and summer.
- Psychotic Depression: This type of depression occurs when a person has severe depression plus some form of psychosis, such as having disturbing false fixed beliefs (delusions) or hearing or seeing upsetting things that others cannot hear or see (hallucinations).
Other examples of depressive disorders include disruptive mood dysregulation disorder (diagnosed in children and adolescents) and premenstrual dysphoric disorder. Depression can also be one phase of bipolar disorder (formerly called manic-depression). But a person with bipolar disorder also experiences extreme high—euphoric or irritable —moods called “mania” or a less severe form called “hypomania.”
You can learn more about these disorders on the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)’s website (www.nimh.nih.gov).
What causes depression?
Scientists at NIMH and across the country are studying the causes of depression. Research suggests that a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors play a role in depression.
Depression can occur along with other serious illnesses, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Depression can make these conditions worse and vice versa. Sometimes medications taken for these illnesses may cause side effects that contribute to depression symptoms. For more information on ongoing research on depression, visit National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)’s website’s link at www.nimh.nih.gov.
How Do I Know If It’s Depression?
Someone who is depressed has feelings of sadness or anxiety that last for weeks at a time. He or she may also experience–
- Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
- Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating or appetite loss
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not get better, even with treatment
How is Depression Different for Older Adults?
- Older adults are at increased risk. We know that about 80% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, and 50% have two or more. Depression is more common in people who also have other illnesses (such as heart disease or cancer) or whose function becomes limited.
- Older adults are often misdiagnosed and undertreated. Healthcare providers may mistake an older adult’s symptoms of depression as just a natural reaction to illness or the life changes that may occur as we age, and therefore not see the depression as something to be treated. Older adults themselves often share this belief and do not seek help because they don’t understand that they could feel better with appropriate treatment.
How Many Older Adults Are Depressed?
The good news is that the majority of older adults are not depressed. Some estimates of major depression in older people living in the community range from less than 1% to about 5% but rise to 13.5% in those who require home healthcare and to 11.5% in older hospital patients.
How is depression treated?
The first step in getting the right treatment is to visit a health care provider or mental health professionals, such as a psychiatrist or psychologist. Your health care provider can do an exam, interview, and lab tests to rule out other health conditions that may have the same symptoms as depression. Once diagnosed, depression can be treated with medications, psychotherapy, or a combination of the two. If these treatments do not reduce symptoms, brain stimulation therapy may be another treatment option to explore.
How Do I Find Help?
Most older adults see an improvement in their symptoms when treated with anti-depression drugs, psychotherapy, or a combination of both. If you are concerned about a loved one being depressed, offer to go with him or her to see a health care provider to be diagnosed and treated.
If you or someone you care about is in crisis, please seek help immediately.
- Call 911
- Visit a nearby emergency department or your health care provider’s office
- Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor
- National Institute of Mental Health Depression
- American Psychological Association’s Depression and Suicide in Older Adults Resource Guide
- CDC’s Prevention Research Centers Healthy Aging Research Network Depression Webinars – hosted by the National Council on Aging
- The Community Guide Mental Health Recommendations
- National Council on Aging Center for Healthy Aging Mental Health Resources
- SAMHSA National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices
Enjoyed this post? Share it and read more here. Jay Harold has put together a Resource page that you may find useful when trying to improve your health and wealth. Please take this advice from Muhammad Ali and give back to others. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”