Residents of Beverly Hills and elsewhere concerned about depression might be interested in recent home health care research into how it can affect our brains.
It’s not news that the possibility of depression increases as we age. The team at Accredited Home Care has become experts in helping clients and their loved ones recognize some of the symptoms. We also are happy to offer recommendations about the variety of treatment options that can be found in local communities.
Though no permanent cure has been found for depression, there are still different options that clients can try to help with some of the symptoms, including medication and therapy. Support from family members and loved ones can be a significant help, as can encouragement from a health care provider or others in the medical community.
Interestingly, depression can be common, but it isn’t required as someone ages.
In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the risk does increase as we get older, but there are more older adults who aren’t depressed than those who are depressed. One estimate shows that the number of older seniors with major depression is 1-5 percent but increase to 13.5 percent who require home health care and 11.5 for hospital patients. Depression is also more common for those with other health conditions.
Factors that can increase depression include:
- Changes in family, which can include children moving out or away.
- Death. Family members, close friends or peers may pass away as they age, which can be difficult to deal with.
- Change in employment. Someone who once had a thriving career and reason to get out of bed every day may lose this incentive and motivation when they retire. They also may lose a supportive network of co-workers and colleagues.
- Change in location. Though it might be fun to move to a different community to be near family, or even to downsize to a smaller place, this can create challenges.
- Change in health. Whether you’ve had specific major health changes like a stroke, the need for more, it can help you feel your mortality.
Sharing these feelings and current changes in your life with a provider can help them be aware of what’s going on. Because depression symptoms can sometimes be hard to see by an outside source it often can be misdiagnosed or undertreated, so that’s why it’s important to give plenty of details to a provider so he or she can have adequate information about you and what you’re experiencing and feeling.
Some patients also may not be sure what’s going on or why they’re feeling a certain way, be knowledgeable about depression in general or just don’t want to talk about it. But sharing info with a provider can increase the possibility of them diagnosing depression correctly.
Health care researchers continue to examine the role depression can play with regards to brain activity and mental function.
A study at the University of Sussex found that adults with depression often had faster rates of cognitive decline, especially as people get older. Basically, the brain seems to age faster if someone has signs of depression.
Various studies of more than 71,000 patients were able to connect past research that anxiety and depression can increase dementia risk but went on to connect these feelings to declines in information processing, memory loss and executive function.
The study showed that those without signs of depression had better performances in these areas than those with depression, even if there were similar ages and other health conditions.
While interesting for those who follow depression, the study results shouldn’t be taken as a scientific or medical truth. Study officials say more research is needed, since some of the factors linked to dementia may take place years before any signs or symptoms are seen.
A related study found similar conclusions that the brain of someone with depression seems to age differently.
The University of Miami Miller School of Medicine studied 1,111 people with an average of 71 who were stroke-free. As many as 25 percent had symptoms of depression.
Over a five-year period, with regular brain scans by subjects, the study found that greater symptoms of depression were connected to a worse episodic memory, which is the ability to recall experiences and events. The study found structural changes to the brain, including smaller brain volume and a higher possibility of small vascular lesions, which can negatively affect health.
These findings led researchers to theorize that aging and depression may happen simultaneously and both can have impacts on the brain.
However, this study didn’t find any other parallels to significant changes in thinking skills, beyond standard ranges for age, unlike the University of Sussex study.
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So what does this new research mean to people currently suffering from depression? It’s uncertain due to how much science doesn’t know about the physical and biochemical aspects of depression and the workings of the brain.
Science likely will be continuing to research this topic for decades. But in the meantime, Beverly Hills residents who believe they have depression or are at risk for it should contact their health providers. This will help them and their families get qualified answers and recommendations for useful treatment options.
For more information on care options, contact Accredited Home Care.