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Suicidal Depression in Elderly : What you should know

Suicidal Depression in Elderly : what you should know
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Suicidal Depression in Elderly : What you should know

Last month, news of a suicide completely shook me off. I was shell shocked when I came to know about the suicide of a distant relative, an octogenarian, who took the drastic step of hanging herself at her daughter’s place. I was always under the impression that depression is always more common amongst the youth. Elderly who have seen life are more resilient and knows better how to navigate their life even in the toughest phase .But when I researched the statistics of suicidal depression in the elderly, it was distressing. Depression is the single contributor to global disability and a major contributor to suicides (~ 800,000 annually). In India, elderly person (60 years and above) constitute 8.6% of the total population( India census 2011) , which will be 19% by 2050. Depression is one of the most common illness in the elderly. The pandemic has been most harsh on kids and elderly, the two extreme age groups of the society. Behavioural issues in kids and depressions in elderly have become a menace during this lockdown. Here, what you should know about the suicidal depression in elderly.

Its important for the family members to know and understand the reasons behind this mental health problem.

Reasons for Suicidal Depression In Elderly : What you should Know

  • Loneliness / Isolation – One of the topmost reason for depression in elderly, factors such as living alone, dwindling social circle, decreased mobility due to illness, deaths or loss of loved ones can trigger depression.
  • Health Problems – Prolong illness and disability, chronic or severe pain can be the contributor.
  • Fears – These include death of loved ones, financial insecurities, physical disability. Last year, their were several reports of suicidal deaths in elderly mainly due to the fear of being infected with COVID -19.
  • Recent Bereavements – one of the most common reasons is loss or death of loved ones. The other family members are also under the impression that they are grieving but they are already in the trap of depression.

Its essential to understand the difference between the grieving and depression, there is only thin line that separates them. Hence, depression is often overlooked.

What is the difference between Grieving and Depression?

Grief Vs Depression
Image courtesy: Verywell.com

Its important to understand the difference between the two. Grieving is natural but depression is an illness. Grief and depression share similar symptoms , but each is a distinct experience, and making the distinction is important for several reasons. With depression, early detection and timely treatment can be life-saving. At the same time experiencing grief due to a loss is not only natural but can ultimately be very healing.

Therefore, its important for other family members to know the difference as early intervention can be life-saving and can avoid the probability of a suicide.

Symptoms for suicidal depression in elderly: What you should know

  • Total loss of interest in life
  • Inability to involve yourself socially
  • Withdrawal from things that gave happiness / joy earlier
  • Indecisiveness and lack of concentration
  • Prolonged and overwhelmed sadness
  • Frustration and irritability
  • Lack of confidence
  • Feelings of guilt and worthlessness
  • Tiredness and unexplained body pain
  • Difficulty in sleeping and change in appetite
  • Excessive heats and chills
  • Frequent urination, tremors and sweating or twitches
  • Restlessness, palpitation and shortness of breath
  • Have suicidal thoughts

Depression also raise the risk of suicide, especially in white men .It came as a surprise when I found that the suicidal rate in people ages 80 to 84 is more than twice that of the general population. The National Institute of Mental Health considers depression in people of the age of 65 and above to be a major health problem .

Changes in older person’s circumstances and the fact that older people are expected to slow down, family may miss the signs of depression.

But if you are aware and come to know about someone under the radar of depression, then seek professional help.

Treatments is the only hope

What treatments are available for depression in Older Adults?

  • Medicines
  • Psychotherapy or counselling
  • Electroconvulsive Therapy
  • Other newer Brain Stimulation Technique ( like Repetitive Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation)

Sometimes , combination of these treatments may be used . The option a doctor might recommend on the type and severity of depression symptoms, past treatment and overall health.

If the depression is not severe then psychotherapy or counselling serves the best. There are professionals and centres with the best practices.

5 Best Organizations to help you out from Mental Health problems and Suicidal Depression in India

1.The Mind Research Foundation

Location : Bangalore and Chandigarh

Services Provided : They provide therapy and support groups for a wide range of emotional and behavioral issues mainly for depression, grief counselling, parenting support and much more.

Contact Details :The Mind Research Foundation

2.AASRA

Location : Mumbai

Services Provided : AASRA focuses on suicide prevention and provides a 24/7 suicide prevention helpline. They also organize support groups for people suffering from bipolar, schizophrenic disorders and families effected y suicide.

Contact Details :AASRA

3. NIMHANS Centre for Wellbeing

Location : Bangalore

Services Provided : NIMHANS is known for treating severe mental disorders, the centre for wellbeing was launched with the idea that there should be awareness about minor mental disturbances in people’s daily lives as well.

Contact Details : NIMHANS

4. Hope Trust India

Location : Hyderabad

Services Provided : They focus mainly on recovery from addiction. But they do provide cognitive behavioural therapy for anxiety and depression for outpatients.

Contact Details : Hope Trust India

5. Mind Body Clininc

Location : Bangalore

Services Provided : The Mind Body Clinic provides therapy and treatment for various mental disorders including depression and anxiety.

Contact Details :

Online Resources

Since the number of institutions that handle minor mental illness are limited in India. There are few online resources that provide support groups and counselling through chat for minor mental disorders. Online therapy can be effective and useful as face-to-face sessions and much needed during this pandemic.

1.Seraniti

They work with the vision of making mental health care more accessible , convenient and confidential. Seraniti provides therapy and counselling sessions by trained therapists who work under the supervision of clinical psychiatrists.

Contact Details :Seraniti

2. Hope Network

They have been providing online services since 2009 on mental health. They have a team of therapists to choose from.

Contact Details :Hope Network

Depression is a major mental health problem that is often ignored and not given the due attention. Depression for any age group should not be taken lightly and timely intervention can do wonders to the person suffering.

This Blog post is part of #causeachatter as well as #MyFriend Alexa hosted by @Blogchatter.


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29 thoughts on “Suicidal Depression in Elderly : What you should know

    1. True, it was an eye-opening lesson for us when we came to know about the shocking news. Awareness is the key to this mental health problem.

  1. All the reasons of depression in elders are true. Infact, they also suffer from insecutires of being away from their loved ones. It’s good that you have mentioned so many help centres also.

  2. Such an exhaustive article! You know I too never realized that elderly can also go through depression. Thank you for putting the spotlight of something all of us were unaware off

  3. The statistics is scary. It’s tough when one loses a loved one or has health issues. This is the time, when they need emotional support and physical presensce of their children.

    1. True, at times we are ignorant and have to bear the brunt of losing someone. Awareness is the only solution.

  4. Taking care of those around us, checking up on them helps. πŸ™‚ reminder for us to be mindfully connect with friends and family.

  5. Just recently, at Ahmedabad a very renowned 80 year old Gujarati literature author /professor and his wife committed suicide. He wrote in his suicide note that both he and his wife were tired of their ill health and thus taking this extreme step. Both his son & daughter in law are doctors so I can only imagine what they must be going through when ther parents took such an extreme step. I was reading in the newspapers quotes from his students who are top bureaucrates on how their teacher helped them face challenges and they were shocked to hear that such a person could committ suicide. We don’t realise what our elderly are going through, and reading about this incident was such an eye opener.

    1. I can’t express how shocked I was when we heard this news. Actually, there are signs and symptoms but we ignore them or don’t consider them to be serious enough.

    1. When we got the news I took a week to come to terms. Its was distressing and more awareness is required.

  6. very valid reasons and COVID has really put mental health at the forefront as a major concern. Thanks for the this and writing on the subject with some thoughts and options to explore for remedy.

  7. This is something not many people know about. Depression is elderly is very common and one of the reasons for failing health. We should keep ourselves busy and do what makes us happy.

    1. True, aunty. Positive and productive engagement is the key to happiness. You are an inspiration to so many.

  8. That’s a very helpful list of centres. The Pandemic and the deaths it caused has been a huge shock for all, more so for the elders. We must keep a closer watch on them, to see what they aren’t telling us.

  9. Reading about the incident was shocking. People often relate symptoms of depression in elderly to just something related with age. Thanks for sharing the resources. Indeed a very important topic that needs more awareness.

    1. Even I was not aware and was shrouded by several myths but the incident in our family helped me to do the research and I was stunned by several facts as well as statistics.

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