Treatments for Depression

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Clinical depression isn't something that goes away on its own. It requires professional treatment. For most people, depression will get better with treatment, such as counseling, medicine, or a combination of both. There is no need to suffer

Physical Exam

Once your parent decides to get medical advice, start with the family doctor. The doctor should check to see if the depression could be caused by a health problem (such as hypothyroidism or vitamin B12 deficiency) or a medicine your elderly parent is taking. After a complete exam, the doctor may suggest that your parent talk to a mental health worker, such as a social worker, mental health counselor, psychologist, or psychiatrist. Doctors specially trained to treat depression in older people are called geriatric psychiatrists. Make the most of a doctor visit, by ensuring your parent receives a full physical exam.

Therapy

Everyone needs someone to talk to. A mental health expert, such as a counselor or psychologist, can often treat your parent's depression successfully. Different therapies seem to work for different people. For instance, support groups can provide new coping skills or social support if your parent is dealing with a major life change. Several kinds of talk therapies are useful as well. One method might help give you a more positive outlook on life. If your parent is always thinking about the sad things in his or her life or focusing on what they may have lost might have led to depression. Another method works to improve relations with others to give your parent more hope about the future.

Antidepressants

Antidepressant drugs (medicine to treat depression) can also help by improving mood, sleep, appetite, and concentration. There are several types of antidepressants available.
Many doctors start by prescribing an SSRI, such as Citalopram (Celexa), Escitalopram (Lexapro), Fluoxetine (Prozac), Fluvoxamine (Luvox), Paroxetine (Paxil) and Sertraline (Zoloft). Another class of antidepressants are Serotonin and norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs). SNRIs include: Venlafaxine (Effexor), Desvenlafaxine (Pristiq), and Duloxetine (Cymbalta).

Some of these medicines can take up to 12 weeks before they begin to work. In addition, some antidepressants can cause unwanted side effects, although newer medicines have fewer side effects. To avoid this problem, the doctor needs to know about all prescribed and over-the-counter medications, vitamins, or herbal supplements your parent is taking. The doctor should also be aware of any other physical problems your parent has.

Exercise

Older people who are depressed can gain mental as well as physical benefits from mild exercise like walking outdoors or in shopping malls. Gardening, dancing, and swimming are other good forms of exercise. Being physically fit and eating a balanced diet may help avoid illnesses that can bring on disability or depression.

Stay Busy

Encourage your parent to develop a hobby. Hobbies may help keep his or her mind and body active. Whether it's golf, a game of cards with friends, or watching a video with grandkids, having things to do keeps negative thoughts at bay. Also make sure your parent stays in touch with family, and encourage them to talk to a trusted family member or friend when they feel sad.

With treatment, most people will find that positive thoughts will gradually replace the negative thoughts that resulted from depression. Expect your parent's mood to improve slowly. Feeling better takes time. But it can happen.

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3 Comments

I am currently caring for my 73 year old Aunt who is suffering from depression and recently tried to commit suicide. She is going to be release from the hospital soon after an evaluation and I don't think that I am able to take care of her any more. Are there facilities that take mental patients and what is the criteria for her to get assigned there?
You need to talk to the social worker in the hospital. It is important to resolve this before your aunt goes home. Sometimes there are more benefits if a referral is made directly from the hospital.
I am not sure what to do! My mother has been in rehab for months, she is 80 and has osteoporosis, memory loss, dementia (more so in the last 3 days) and confused. She has gone in a fetal position and refuses and does not understand to loosen up and straighten out her leg. They stopped physical therapy as she was not responding and stopped eating. she lives in florida and I live in North Carolina. My brother lives in her home and works out of the house, he is her main caregiver, but he is only able to visit once a day at dinner time. I came down 2 weeks ago after the facility called me to start considering hospice or a feeding tube, and I nor my brother want to do a feeding tube, so I headed down to asses the situation. I should also mention that she is a foreign woman, she can't read or write and not good with activities, picky eater, she was an amazing cook!
For the last 2 weeks, I spent time with her from the moment she got up, to the moment she laid down, we tried physical therapy again, and she showed interest and motivation, she gained 4 pounds and her appetite came back. A week ago, her new doctor as the previous one was never present prescribed a low dose of muscle relaxer baclofen, to take 3 times a day, a total of 15 milligrams a day. 3-4 days ago I noticed a lot of confusion, especially with eating and swallowing, she closes her mouth when I say open, spits out when I say swallow, she sleeps all the time and her dementia is constant. In addition, she vomits 1 to 2 out of her 3 meals and her stomach hurts. Because she was not improving as quickly as medicare would like in physical therapy, even though she met the goals they set, they stopped PT a few days ago. I looked up side effects and found out that all her symptoms are side effects, so I asked the nurse to stop baclofen and let her doctor know that I no longer wish her taking it. He came to see me a few hours after that and wanted to discuss putting her on antidepressants. I am really concerned with this, I don't want her dealing with more side effects, when I showed my concern he said that if he did not feel it was necessary, then he would not suggest it, he knows what he is doing and that most patients in here are on it, but they all look out of it all the time, non of them look happy and perky!
I am bringing her home on Wednesday to live here again, we are getting her a hoyer lift to help with transportation. I think being home and around family should help a bit, but what if the antidepressants will help? I am so confused! I am more prone to holistic approach and all natural supplements, but I don't want to impose my beliefs on her situation and I surely don't want her to be depressed in her late stage of living! What to do???