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?
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.
What treatments are available for depression in Older Adults?
- 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
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 :
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.
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.
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