Depression is the most common emotional disorder among older adults. Many of us, including those with parents, often miss the signs which are more obvious after the loss of a spouse. Increased sleep, weight loss, inactivity, a loss in desire for socialization are other signs. My own father who likely suffered from depression his entire life was not formally diagnosed until after the death of my mother. The National Institute of Mental Health estimates that although 15% of older adults suffer from clinical depression, fewer than 10% receive a diagnosis or appropriate treatment (Department of health and Human Services, 1999). Older adults are especially vulnerable to having their depression overlooked because they generally receive health care from primary care physicians who, according to a major Institute of Mental Health report,do not provide adequate assessment and treatment of depression for this age group (Institute of Medicine, Shaping the Future for Health 2005). If you suspect depression in yourself or a parent seek an assessment from a mental health professional.

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