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Are Older Adults Lonelier?


Researchers often confuse loneliness with depression. The two are related, but while depression can be long lasting and might have a biochemical component, loneliness tends to be more short term. The two are however intertwined.

Depression may be described as feeling sad, blue, unhappy, or miserable. Although most of us feel this way at one time or another for short periods, clinical depression changes our mood so much so that it affects sleeping, eating, energy levels, and concentration. It impinges on everyday activities and affects health, relationships, health care use, quality of life, and even mortality.

Depression can creep up on you—especially since most older adults might have multiple ill-health issues at the same time—it can be easy to overlook that depression might be causing some of the symptoms. Steps to address depression should be taken seriously since it correlates with other chronic diseases.

Depression might be an early sign of Parkinson’s disease. The disease affects cells that produce brain chemicals such as serotonin and norepinephrine, which can play a role in depression. In addition, because a chronic vitamin D deficiency can cause both depression and osteoporosis, depression might be the only visible sign of osteoporosis. On of the first signs of Depression, as with Alzheimer’s disease, is the loss of smell. So depression could indicate that there are other, life threatening, neurological changes.

Depression, especially severe depression, eventually reacts favorably to medication, and by alleviating depression loneliness might be mitigated. Realizing that you are depressed and that you need help opens up several good resources.The National Alliance on Mental Illness can be reached at 1-800-950-6264, while local agencies might have Senior Mental Health Team, which provides crisis assessment and assistance. Feeling lonely and depressed do not have to be endured alone.

© USA Copyrighted Mario D Garrett 2013