Stereotypical views pose hurdle to recovery from depression in elderly

Stereotypical views pose hurdle to recovery from depression in elderly

A tragic experience, like the death of a loved one, or a difficult situation, such as increased susceptibility to a serious medical problem, often results into feelings of depression or stress. Since such occurrences go up with aging, there are many prevalent biases and stereotypes related to it. One of such biases is that older adults become fragile, senile and forgetful as they enter the later years of their life.

It is commonly believed that older adults are prone to develop chronic physical problems and are susceptible to an array of mental disorders, such as depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, dementia, etc. The role of media can be blamed to a great extent in enforcing such perceptions through advertisements, write-ups, TV shows, etc. Many researchers believe that older adults can fall into this trap of depression and erroneously blame many of their shortcomings on age.

By believing that they cannot do anything about aging, treatments and effective interventions are delayed by older adults. The entire effect of succumbing to the common assumptions, stereotypical viewpoints and biases about aging is popularly described as “introjected ageism.” After reaching a certain age, one will find himself or herself becoming a part of the stereotyped class.

According to the World Bank, issues pertaining to aging are becoming more significant as the life span of Americans has increased to 78.74 years due to the advancement in medicines and prenatal health care. A lot of people assume that depression in old age is normal and nothing can be done about its onset. However, such notions are false. Illnesses and disabilities are usually associated with old age, but that does not mean that they are always seen in old age. Considering the large number of people, including older adults, with severe cognitive impairments, it can made to imply that cognitive deterioration is a part of aging rather than an illness that can take root in a vast number of adults.

Depression not as prevalent in elderly as in younger adults

In 2009, a study published in the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology suggested that depression is not a normal part of aging. Some key findings of the study were:

  • The prevalence of depression is less common in later life than in midlife. Moreover, late life depression was found to be less severe, but the consequences were found to be devastating due to the increased burden of chronic physical conditions, impaired functioning and the risk of suicide.
  • Older adults are less likely to be affected by psychiatric diseases and more likely to display cognitive changes, somatic symptoms and loss of interest compared to young adults.
  • Factors that contributed to depression in old age included the role of genetics, cognitive diathesis and age-associated neurobiological changes due to the stressful events that occur in late life.
  • The lowering of daily activities due to old age or retirement along with self-critical thinking may contribute to the development of a depressed state.
  • Depression in later life is treatable even among those with dementia. Evidence suggests that behavioral therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), cognitive bibliotherapy and problem-solving therapy were effective. However, they were seldom used to treat older adults.

There is also evidence that supports the use of psychological and somatic interventions that can prevent depression from setting in later in life. The chances of successful recovery are higher through effective treatments and interventions.

Scope of recovery

It is important to think realistically about illnesses like depression and dementia in the old age to overcome the stereotypical viewpoints associated with aging. Older adults can still take part in activities that they had previously enjoyed, including those that they had to put off due to work and the challenge of raising children. Also, younger adults should not view aging negatively. One can achieve a surer path to a fulfilling life by putting more thought into the things that one wants to accomplish after retirement.

If you or your loved one is suffering from depression, it is advisable to seek help from the Texas Depression Treatment Help. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 866-827-0282 or chat online to avail the best depression treatment in Texas.