Is Depression Real?

According to WHO, India is one of the leading countries when it comes to people suffering from depression. Elderly depression in India, in fact, is higher than the worldwide prevalence of depression. The global range of depression and depressive disorders in the elderly is 4.7% to 16%, while in India, it is 21.9%.

With aging come a lot of issues that older adults have to face. Loss of a partner, children moving away, financial issues and physical problems are some of these. Any of these problems can trigger depression and anxiety in older adults.

Depression is not discussed openly as many people are not aware of the dangers of the disorder. In fact, many people tend to brush it off as part of aging. However, depression is a real problem and can be controlled if the affected older adult gets access to proper treatment in time.

Also Read: How to Prevent Depression in the Elderly?

There are some symptoms by which you can recognize depression:

  1. An acute sense of helplessness or hopelessness
  2. Loss of self-esteem and self-worth
  3. Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  4. Abrupt changes in weight
  5. Disinterest and apathy in hobbies and interests
  6. Isolation and avoiding socializing actively
  7. Suicidal thoughts or thinking about death
  8. Mood swings
  9. Imagining and amplifying physical pains and illnesses (Hypochondriasis)

How Support Groups Help Older Adults with Depression?

Support groups are groups consisting of people who are suffering from or have gone through similar experiences as yours. There are two types of support groups:

1. Virtual groups

There are online forums on social media consisting of people with similar ailments. You can connect with them online and discuss your symptoms and experiences. Online groups offer a degree of anonymity to the users so that you do not have to face anyone. This is especially useful for depressed older adults because they fear judgment most.

2. Physical groups

If you have isolated yourself and do not wish to meet anyone, physical groups can actually be a blessing in disguise for you. Here you get to actually meet and interact with others suffering from depression. You might make new friends here, too. You also get the habit of going out and interacting with other people which will be quite beneficial in the long run.

Also Read: 6 Ways to Deal with Depression

Support groups are not only meant for fun. Here are some advantages of being a part of a support group:

  1. Awareness: Support groups provide awareness about depression. You can gain more knowledge about your condition and know ways to overcome it. Often, support groups come up with interactive workshops and Q&A sessions with experts so that you get a perspective on your illness.
  2. No judgment: Older adults with depression are most worried about judgment. It is one of the main reasons why they do not admit having depression and go on isolating themselves. Support groups give older adults a platform to open up without offering any criticism or judgment.
  3. Activities: Support groups often have activities that help people fight depression. Workshops like laughter yoga or hobby classes are often held to keep depression away.
  4. Guidance: Support groups usually have a member of the medical fraternity who can give proper guidance in case you notice further symptoms of depression. People in the group can also share their own stories so that you get an idea of how to deal with depression.
  5. Accountability: Support groups encourage older adults to share all positive and negative things that happen to them. This is a way for them to get off negative thoughts off their chest or spread happiness. Support groups for depression also tend to give “homework” which an older adult should do at home between sessions. This is not only a way to fight depression but also helps the individual to sharpen his wits. Often, progress is marked, so that there is a visual representation of how much improvement the older adult has made. This motivates the person to fight depression strongly.

Older adults with depression have usually lost all interest in life and often, also the will to live. Support groups help give them new hope and the will to carry out life with determination.

Some popular support groups for helping older adults with depression in India are:

  1. The Mind Research Foundation
  2. AASRA
  3. NIMHANS Centre for Wellbeing
  4. Cadabam’s
  5. Hope Trust India
  6. Mind Body Clinic
  7. Manipal Hospital

Other than these, there are online support groups as well, such as:

  1. Seraniti
  2. Hope Network
  3. eWellness Expert
  4. Depression & Anxiety Support Group – India (Facebook group)

Support groups are formed for just this reason – providing support. Older adults with depression should avail these groups. They can benefit immensely and lead a happy life.

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