• According to the National Institute of Health-Senior Health, about 5 million people past the age of 65 have some level of depression. Of those with depression, 2 million experience severe cases of this condition.

    External Causes

    Depression in the elderly often comes from social isolation due to the deaths of friends and family. Also, retirement gives some elderly a loss of a sense of purpose.

    Health Causes

    Many of the elderly have chronic pain that impacts the quality of their life and limits their ability to do the activities they once enjoyed. Some drugs may incur or magnify depressive thoughts.

    Genetic Causes

    According to the U.S. National Institute of Health, some elderly people may inherit a tendency towards depression from their bloodline. In addition, bouts of depression during the younger years may relapse later in life.


    Loved ones of the elderly should take caution not to confuse grief with depression. Periods of grieving and sadness are typical when a person loses a friend or family member. These become depression when they continue to last or affect areas of the life that once gave the person joy.


    Doctors treat depression in the elderly with antidepressant medication and referrals to a psychologist; sometimes the physician prescribes a combination of both.


    National Institute of Health-Senior Health; Depression; Depression in Older Adults and the Elderly; Depression in the Elderly

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