Holidays Without Cheer
Elderly Are Especially At Risk For Depression This Time Of Year
By Rome Neal
(CBS) It's not unusual for elderly women and men to suffer from sadness, loneliness and mood swings — especially during the holiday season.
However, relatives and loved ones risk mistaking the signs of a serious illness — clinical depression — for the holiday blues. Dr. Steven P. Roose, professor of clinical psychiatry at Columbia University, gave tips on The Early Show to recognize the signs of depression for loved ones in their golden years.
At this time of year, many elderly people have memories of past holidays with loved ones who have since died. For some this festive time can trigger a mourning period for spouses, siblings and friends who are no longer here. On top of medical, financial, legal and housing problems they may face at this time in their lives, the loneliness and sadness they experience during the holidays can be the proverbial straw that breaks the camel's back.
Sadness is a response to an event, and is temporary. But if a person is very sad for more than a month and starts having problems with sleep, normal activities, appetite, maintaining their weight and so forth, then they are clinically depressed.
During the holiday season, Roose encourages family and friends to give elderly loved ones as much support as possible. There are many treatment options, including new medications with fewer side effects. Most elderly sufferers will accept psychiatric care, because they realize they need help.