Seniors Outreach - March 20, 2019

What does it mean to be depressed? Depression is one of the most common mental illnesses in the world. According to the American Psychiatric Association 1 in 6 people will be affected by a major depression (that is, they will experience symptoms of depression that last at least two weeks) in the course of their lives. This illness can affect children, teenagers, adults, and the elderly, regardless of their nationality, level of education, or social status. Although 70% to 80% of cases can be treated with medication and therapy, some patients will struggle with depression their entire lives.
So how can you recognize the signs of depression?
If you think you’re suffering from depression, first of all, talk to your doctor right away. Secondly, there are many organizations who offer helpful resources – such as the Canadian Mental Health Association. Thirdly be aware of and check out some of the following signs:
1. Sadness – This sadness is intense, doesn’t have a specific cause, and one may cry without knowing exactly why and at any time of the day.
2. Fatigue - Fatigue in this case is a permanent or semi-permanent condition. Nothing seems to get rid of the seemingly irresistible urge to sleep. Sleeping longer at night, napping during the day, and taking lots of breaks doesn’t make a difference.
3. Guilt and Anxiety - Many depressed people feel guilty about nothing and everything, for no good reason. Some question themselves and everything they do. It is fairly common for depressed people to experience high levels of anxiety (mental rumination, hot flashes or shivers, chest pain and numbness).
4. Suicidal Thoughts - Having suicidal thoughts is one of the most frequent symptoms of depression and this is the most common mental illness leading to one taking their own life. One who has suicidal thoughts may talk to their loved ones about what they are thinking of doing; may suddenly start reading/writing/drawing about death for no reason; and/or may start giving away valuable personal items or suddenly say a last goodbye to their loved ones. It is important to get help immediately if you are having suicidal thoughts.
5. Loss of Interest - Often, depressed people lose interest in their favourite activities, and or their daily activities.
6. Change in Appetite - Sometimes, depression can affect one’s appetite. In some cases, people with depression may start to feel disgusted by food, even their favourite dishes. Other times, it’s the opposite: the person eats more than usual and craves unhealthy items like fast food. Due to this change in appetite, it’s normal for an individual’s weight to vary. No matter the cause, any sudden change in your weight requires a visit to your doctor.
7. Dependence on Drugs and Alcohol - It’s common to see people with depression self-medicate with drugs and alcohol and even develop addictions. Although drugs and alcohol let people with depression momentarily forget their symptoms, like constant sadness, in the medium and long term, consuming alcohol and drugs can actually make symptoms worse, creating a vicious cycle.
8. Headaches - Depression is often accompanied by physical symptoms. One of the most common is headaches, which tend to appear during the day, and can last for several months or even years. Of course, headaches can have many other causes, so if you have persistent headaches or migraines, it’s important to visit your doctor and rule out other problems.
9. Stomach Pain – Another related ailment when suffering with depression may be stomach pain. Depression makes the brain more sensitive to pain. This may be somewhat invisible until it becomes suddenly intense. It’s possible for this pain to be generalized or occur in a specific point in the stomach.
10. Back Pain - There’s a sort of two-way link between back pain and depression. Although depression can sometimes cause back pain, the reverse is also true. Sometimes, people become depressed because they are suffering from chronic back pain. Consult a doctor if you are experiencing persistent back pain.
11. Nausea - Out of all the possible causes of nausea, depression is one of the biggest. In addition to feeling like you’re going to vomit, nausea can make women and men with depression feel disgusted by certain foods. Persistent nausea can also cause weight loss.
12. Diarrhea and/or Constipation - Stress and anxiety are known to cause diarrhea and depression shouldn’t be ruled out of the equation, either. In fact, there seems to be a link between your mind and your gut. One study found that people with irritable bowel syndrome were more likely to experience symptoms of anxiety and depression than the rest of the population. As well, some people who are diagnosed with depression suffer from constipation, which can be caused by a lack of physical activity, changes in diet, longer periods of sleep, and so on.
13. Isolation - Depression has a tendency to isolate the people who are suffering from it. They stay at home and don’t want to see anyone, either at work or in their personal life, and the social isolation is worse when they feel like their friends and family don’t support them. However, withdrawing from society only makes symptoms of depression worse.
14. Insomnia - With the frantic pace of today’s society, insomnia is a common problem. For example in the United States, nearly one in three people will suffer from insomnia during their lifetime and there is much evidence to suggest the numbers are similar in Canada and many other parts of the world. For people with depression, episodes of insomnia are common. Overwhelmed by their thoughts, depressed people can’t fall asleep, or if they do, they can’t stay asleep, waking up several times during the night. Folks with insomnia are 10X more likely to be depressed than the rest of us.
15. Loss of Libido - Depression is known to lower self-esteem and cause a general loss of interest in regular activities; it’s not unusual for people with depression to experience a lack of sexual desire as well. Even with medication, a loss of libido can persist, since some antidepressants affect sexual function and decrease sexual desire.
16. Difficulty Concentrating - Some people suffering from depression become less productive at work and in their lives in general. This is primarily because depression affects our ability to concentrate on a specific task. For someone with depression, something that would normally only take a few minutes to accomplish, like brushing your teeth, can suddenly take hours.
17. Anger - Sometimes, the sadness that depression causes can turn into irritability or even anger. People with depression may lose patience quickly and become angry because they are unable to make themselves feel better and don’t know how to cope. Anger attacks may occur more frequently than you might think.
18. Difficulty Making Decisions - Should I wear my blue sweater or red jacket? When it’s time to get dressed in the morning, many of us can’t decide between two outfits. After a few seconds of deliberation, we make our choice. For many people suffering from depression, it’s more complicated than that. Throughout their day, they have a hard time making both easy and complex decisions.
19. Being Nervous - Depression does not necessarily make you nervous, but some people with depression become much more nervous than usual. They worry about every little thing, have trouble sitting still, or develop nervous tics. Source: Thank you to Philippe Michaud’s article: Are You Depressed? 20 Signs to Watch Out For.
Seniors Outreach provides opportunities to learn, to interact, to socialize and to volunteer in order to keep one’s mental and physical abilities engaged. Be Encouraged.
Seniors Outreach Activities: Call Seniors Outreach Main Office (403-443-2555 or toll free from Carbon at 1-888-443-2555) to sign up/purchase tickets or for more information for the following:
Monthly Information
“You and Your Pharmacist” - 10:00 a.m. Drop-In Centre, Three Hills.
- 6:00 p.m. Potluck and Presentation at 50+ Club, Care & Share Centre, Linden.
Photography Contest: Call in or stop in at the Seniors Outreach office to pick up sign up forms for your photography submissions. We are looking for 2-3 pictures from each senior (65+) photographer by May 16, 2019. Judging will occur in early June. Prize (TBA) to be awarded by mid-June.
REMINDER: For Basic Income Tax preparation and submission for Seniors 2018 Income tax – contact Kneehill Regional Family and Community Support Services at 403-443-3800.
Seniors Outreach Program Society is thankful to Alberta Culture and Tourism for their support through the Community Initiatives Program Operating Grant for 2017 and 2018!