When an elderly person has lost interest in activities they used to enjoy, or they persistently feel sad, helpless, and hopeless, they are no doubt battling with depression. This is a common problem among seniors in the United States that many people erroneously regard as an inevitable part of the aging process.
It’s normal for seniors to feel sad or stressed each time they realize that they can no longer walk briskly, run, jog, or swim like before. Or when they realize that they can no longer visit places where they had lots of fun. Or when they remember people they’ve met and loved but will not get to see again. Or when they realize that they can no longer do much without assistance. Ordinarily, this sadness only lingers for some time, after which most seniors face the new realities, adjust to them, and feel well again.
But with depression in the picture, it all becomes an entirely different story. The feeling of sadness and hopelessness persists and interferes significantly with normal functioning, and affects quality of life. When this happens, it should never be taken for a character change or an inevitable part of aging. Rather, it’s a medical condition that is treatable — even in the elderly.
What are the symptoms of depression in the elderly?
One upside of depression is that its symptoms are unique to a great extent, and its signs can be clearly seen in affected seniors. But without adequate knowledge of these signs and symptoms, most cases of depression in the elderly would remain unnoticed or would be noticed late. Here are some of the signs and symptoms of depression in seniors.
- Persistent sadness or feelings of hopelessness
- Loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
- Loss of appetite or weight loss
- Unexplained aches and pains in different parts of the body
- Lack of motivation and energy
- Sleep abnormality (insomnia, daytime sleepiness)
- Loss of self-worth or self-esteem
- Slowed movement or speech
- Neglect of personal care (non-compliance with medications, skipping meals, indifference about personal hygiene)
- Increased intake of alcohol or drugs
- Memory problems
- Suicidal thoughts
Note that depressed seniors may not necessarily feel “sad”. Even though depression and sadness usually happen together, many elderly people who are depressed claim not feel sad at all. Instead, they complain of some of the other symptoms listed above.
Who is at risk for depression?
Although depression is commoner in the younger age groups, it can occur at any age — including old age. Seniors are particularly at risk for developing depression if they:
- are female
- have a personal or family history of depression
- have developed one or more disabilities due to old age
- are socially isolated or lonely
- have a chronic illness such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, or cancer
- have developed poor sleeping habits
- have persistent fears and anxiety over death or financial problems
- have used certain medications for long periods (examples are steroids and certain antihypertensive drugs
- suffer from a brain disease such as Parkinsonism or Alzheimer’s disease
- have experienced stressful life events such as divorce, bankruptcy, loss of spouse/ a child, or taking care of a chronically ill person
How to treat depression in the elderly
Depression can be effectively treated in older adults, just as it can in younger people. And the use of antidepressants remains one of the most widely recommended treatment modalities for depression in both the young and old.
However, since depression can be caused by a number of different factors, it’s important to figure out the cause before commencing treatment. In fact, without finding out the cause, treatment might be impossible. For example, for an elderly whose depression was caused by loneliness, antidepressants alone won’t help. In such case, preventing isolation by visiting friends and relatives or other social outings would help the person feel much better.
Similarly, a case of depression caused by a long-standing medical condition such as diabetes will not improve significantly unless the underlying condition is treated.
Generally, in addition to the use of antidepressants, seeing a counselor or psychologist, joining support groups, eating healthier, complying with medications, and increasing social engagements have been proven to help elderly people overcome depression.
Natural anti-depressants to the rescue
For decades now, doctor-prescribed antidepressant medications have been used to treat depression. And in most cases, these drugs help to achieve significant improvement and successful treatment. However, they have their own downsides — side effects!
Common side effects of clinically developed antidepressant medications include insomnia, blurred vision, loss of sexual desire, nausea, dry mouth, reduction in bone density, constipation, stomach aches, diarrhea, and many more.
And the truth is, these side effects can be unbearable for elderly people. That’s where natural anti-depressant supplements come in handy. These natural alternatives are equally as effective as clinically developed antidepressant medications, yet without producing those nasty side effects.
The sweet thing about natural antidepressants is that they are available over-the-counter. Although we don’t encourage self-diagnosis and self-treatment, it doesn’t hurt to use these products after thorough evaluation and diagnosis by a medical expert.
Best antidepressants for the elderly: Our top 3 picks
As with any other products, anti-depressant supplements by various brands abound in the market. And making the right choice can be very difficult for someone who isn’t in the know. For this reason, we scoured the market to compare the best options available and, more importantly, those that are most suitable for use by elderly people.
Here are our top 3 recommendations.
1. Genius Joy Serotonin Mood Booster
Genius Joy is a natural formula specially prepared to help people with depression, anxiety, stress, and other related issues. The formula contains all-natural ingredients that boosts the mood, enhances cognitive abilities, promotes longevity, increases energy and improves general well-being.
For seniors who are battling with depression, Genius Joy is a suitable choice because it contains a number of clinically-proven antidepressant substances, such as S-adenosyl methionine (SAMe), 5-hydroxy tryptophan (5HTP), and B vitamins. And even sweeter is the fact that there are no side effects because all ingredients are sourced naturally.
SAMe, a naturally-occurring molecule found in all living cells, helps to improve depression by facilitating enzymatic reactions that stimulate the production of feel-good substances such as dopamine and serotonin.
5HTP is a naturally-occurring amino acid and chemical precursor, which is an intermediate in biosynthesis of the neurotransmitter serotonin. So, it’s expectable that the intake of this substance will increase the production of serotonin in the brain, leading to improvement of mood and reversal of depression as well as related symptoms such as loss of appetite and insomnia. When compared with clinically developed antidepressants, 5HTP has been found to be equally effective in fighting depression, yet with little or no side effects.
B-vitamins, aside being important building blocks of the body, are essential for effective function of the brain and nervous system. In all, they play over a 100 beneficial roles in the body, and they collectively help to keep various bodily functions operating at their best.
Genius Joy also contains Neurofactor, a patented substance made from the whole fruit of the coffee bean. This ingredient helps to increase the body levels of Brain-Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), a protein found in the brain and nervous system that is responsible for the development and repair of neurons as well as protection against the neuro-degenerative effects of aging. It plays important roles in many functions of the brain, such as memory, learning, alertness, mood, and control of metabolism.
- Vitamin B1
- Vitamin B2
- Vitamin B3
- Vitamin B5
- Vitamin B6
- Vitamin B12
- Vitamin D3
- S-adenosylmethionine (SAMe)
- N-Acetyl L-tyrosine
- Rhodiola rosea
- Red Panax Ginseng Powder
- Natural L-Theanine
2. Enlifta Depression Supplement
The Enlifta Depression Supplement is a natural antidepressant formulation made to help depressed people boost their mood and enjoy overall sound health. Prepared in the USA by a psychiatrist, the supplement comprises a number of natural ingredients, which comes with little or no side effects.
The product pack contains 30 medium-sized pills. For best results, the manufacturer recommends starting with one tablet a day for the first 12 days, with each tablet taken with food. If there is need to increase the dose, then one more tablet should be added over the next 12 days. But if depression symptoms are improving with just one tablet a day, there’s no need to step up to 2 tablets. Even if 2 tablets don’t seem to bring desired results, one more tablet could be added after 12 days of taking 2 tablets daily. Note that 3 tablets per day is the maximum you should ever take of this supplement. However, most users start to see great results within the first 12 days.
The Enlifta Depression Supplement is suitable for seniors who are battling with depression, but it shouldn’t be used by those who have been diagnosed with HIV or other autoimmune disease, those with Parkinson’s disease, and those who have received an organ transplant.
The Enlifta Depression Supplement comprises ingredients that work synergistically to produce effects far greater than the sum of each individual ingredient. Here are the major ingredients:
- John’s Wort (the most widely used herb for mood support)
- Quatrefolic (a more active form of folic acid)
- Saffron Bulb
- Rhodiola root powder
- Vitamin D
- Vitamin B12
3. Mood Boost
One of the bestselling natural antidepressant supplements, Mood Boost also helps to improve the mood and reduce stress and anxiety. The product pack contains 60 vegetarian capsules that can last up to 2 months, depending on dosage (1 or 2 tablets per day, as prescribed by the physician).
As with others on our list, Mood Boost contains natural ingredients such as 5HTP, L-tyrosine, L-theanine and GABA (gamma amino butyric acid), rhodiola rosea, chamomile extracts, passion flower, and ashwagandha. All these ingredients work together to boost the body’s natural ability to cope with low mood and stress.
Manufactured in the USA (California, precisely), Mood Boost is suitable for seniors, but those with liver diseases must consult their doctor before proceeding to use the product.
- Vitamin B6
- Ashwagandha root extract
- Rhodiola root extract
- Chamomile flower extract
- Lemon balm herb extract
- Organic rice bran powder
On a final note, it’s highly recommended that you consult your physician before using any of these products, as there might be some addition precautions you might need you take that only your doctor understands.