Resilience & Mental Health

Older Adults and Mental Health

It’s just as important for an older person with symptoms of depression to seek treatment as it is for someone younger. The impact of depression on health in older adults can be severe. Research has reported that depression can be associated with worse physical health. 

Depression can complicate the treatment of physical health conditions, including making it more difficult for someone to care for themselves and to seek treatment when needed. In older adults, depression may be disregarded as frailty, or it may be viewed as an inevitable result of life changes, chronic illness, and disability.  

Recognizing the signs and seeing a health practitioner is the first step to getting treatment, which can make a real difference in someone’s quality of life. 

Warning signs 

  • Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite 
  • Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions 
  • Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much 
  • Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge 
  • Increased worry or feeling stressed 
  • Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness 
  • Ongoing headaches, digestive issues, or pain 
  • A need for alcohol or drugs 
  • Sadness or hopelessness 
  • Suicidal thoughts 
  • Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions 
  • Engaging in high-risk activities 
  • Obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior 
  • Thoughts or behaviors that interfere with work, family, or social life 
  • Unusual thinking or behaviors that concern other people 

Tip: Certain chronic conditions have symptoms that can be similar to these physical symptoms of depression. Consult with your Care Team if you feel this may be the case for you! 

Mental disorders can be treated 

If you are unsure where to go for help, ask your family doctor or a member of your Care Team. Communicating well with your health care provider can improve your care and help you both make good choices about your health.  

If you or someone you know is in a crisis, get help immediately. You can call 911 or the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). 

Source: The National Institute of Mental Health