How Can a Psychologist Help With Senior Citizen Issues
Although it is not considered common to become depressed at any age, there are many senior citizens who acquire this condition due to the many changes that are taking place in their lives. These can include the loss of loved ones – including a long-term spouse – as well as retirement, poor health, social isolation, and even physical disabilities. Unfortunately, many people tend to ignore the depression that is evident in an older friend or loved one, thinking that it is an inevitable part of just growing old. This, however, is not the case, and should depression be an issue, the senior citizen should be assisted. One of the best ways to do so is through therapy.
How to Detect Depression in a Senior Citizen
Similar to what occurs with younger individuals, there are several signs that may indicate that a senior citizen is depressed. Some of these symptoms may be easier to detect than others, however, the following examples include some of the more common indicators:
- Feelings of pessimism or hopelessness
- Recurring physical pain that does not respond to any type of medical treatment
- Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
- Excessive crying
- Thoughts of suicide (and suicide attempts)
- Irregular sleep patterns that could include oversleeping or insomnia
- A loss of interest in ordinary activities
- Fatigue or decreased energy
There are some instances where these issues may be common. However, if any of the above conditions have persisted for at least three months or longer, then it is likely that the individual should seek psychological treatment.
How Therapy Can Help a Senior With Depression
There are many ways in which therapy can help a senior citizen to overcome their feelings of depression. However, it is first important to let the individual know that depression is a treatable condition. In fact, successful treatment can even be accomplished by those who have a serious case of depression. Some individuals may feel that there is a stigma that is associated with seeking psychological treatment. Therefore, one of the first steps to take is to reduce this attitude and reassure the individual that therapy is successfully sought for both physical as well as emotional conditions.
Common Types of Treatment
One of the most common types of treatment for depression is psychotherapy. This may also include the use of an antidepressant medication. The actual method of treatment will likely depend upon the nature along with the severity of the individual's depression, as well as in many cases the individual's own preference.
Psychotherapy techniques that are used to treat depression can include counseling. This in effect can help in easing the pain of the depression itself, while also addressing the hopelessness that the individual may feel.
In addition, there are types of cognitive therapy that may be used in treating the channeling of pessimistic ideas and other negative thought processes. This helps the patient in recognizing which of their life issues truly are critical and which ones are actually minor.
Psychotherapists may also use problem solving therapies in changing the person's outlook on the issues that appear to be causing them the most amount of stress. This can result in being better able to cope with the underlying issues as well as with the actual depression itself.
Other types of treatment may be received from family doctors and clinics that are specially focused on working with seniors and the issues that they face. Psychologists, for instance, are specifically focused on providing treatment for those with depression as well as with other types of psychological issues. Similar to physicians, these professionals possess a doctoral degree, but in psychology rather than in medicine. Oftentimes, a psychologist may even work in conjunction with the senior's primary care physician in getting the individual through their depressive state.
There are a number of organizations that may also be of help in offering a therapy of sorts to a senior citizen who has depression. These can include national advocacy organizations such as AARP (the American Association of Retired Persons), the National Mental Health Association, and the National Depressive and Manic Depressive Association.
While losing a beloved spouse or long-term friends can still be overwhelming, as is coping with failing physical capabilities, successful therapy can lead the affected individual to a very fulfilling life of happiness. The key is to first determine whether the senior is truly depressed and if so, then finding the best route for a cure for that individual.
Sarah Smith works with a licensed Thousand Oaks therapistwith a practice that serves a wide range of patient types, including a focus on senior citizens and the unique therapy they require.Published in Health & Medicine