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Do Older Adults Suffer from Depression?

India has nearly 104 million older adults. Nearly 15% of the older adults in India have some kind of mental disorder, dementia and depression being the leading ones.

Men and women both suffer from depression. However, their symptoms are completely different. While women usually become sadder, quieter and more isolated, men might appear angry and aggressive. This often leads to misunderstandings between them and their circle of family and friends. In fact, many men do not understand these symptoms as those of depression.

Also Read: How to Prevent Depression in Older Adults

Do Men Suffer More from Depression?

While feeling sad or not being able to sleep is normal for a short period of time in old age, if you have been suffering from a prolonged period of sleeplessness or you feel an inability to feel happy for anything, you might be suffering from depression.

Men are always urged to be strong. Crying is often seen as a sign of weakness. Right from childhood, boys are taught not to cry and be strong, because, “boys don’t cry.” India being a patriarchial society, this mentality is strongly impressed on boys from a very young age and it becomes their second nature as they grow up. Due to this, most men do not know how to express their feelings.

Depression is a serious disorder that inhibits your ability to think or even feel about things. As your judgment doesn’t work, the way you handle various situations changes. Men might experience irrational anger or unexplainable sadness that they are unable to express. Many men could also mistake their anger for mood swings. However, while mood swings also cause similar symptoms, moods change in some days. If you experience these symptoms for at least two weeks, you must consult a psychiatrist.

Also Read: 5 Apps for Older Adults to Fight Depression

Men also suffer more than women from depression because of their unwillingness to talk about their feelings. As they themselves do not understand the symptoms and hide them, they simply try to carry on with their regular routine even when they lose interest in work, family and hobbies. They also have more difficulty sleeping than women who have depression.

Men also tend to have more physical symptoms than women with depression. They may experience headaches, quickened heart rate, tightness in the chest, and digestive issues due to depression. Most men consult a regular doctor for their physical condition rather than seeing a psychiatrist.

Men also are more prone to turning to alcohol or drugs to try to tackle depression. Most suicides among older adults are due to depression and depressive diseases, and the percentage of suicides is more in men than women. While more women attempt suicide, more men are likely to succeed in their attempts as they use rather dangerous methods.

Also Read: Support Groups for Depression – Do They Help?

Let’s Talk About Men’s Health

November is the month where we talk about men’s health, also called Movember.

The risk factors of depression in older men might be:

  1. Genetic factors
  2. Environmental stress
  3. Illness

Some of the common symptoms most men suffer when in depression are:

  • Anger and irritability
  • Aggression
  • Anxiety
  • Loss of interest in surroundings
  • No interest in family, work or hobbies
  • Feeling hopeless or empty
  • Inability to concentrate or remember things
  • Extreme tiredness
  • Changes in sleep patterns
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Overeating or under eating
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Partaking more alcohol or drugs
  • Isolation from friends and family

If you experience at least two of these symptoms for at least two weeks, you need to see your psychiatrist.

Also Read: Know why November is celebrated as Men’s health month (Movember)

Talk to us about your depression and make more people aware of this serious mental health condition.

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