Recent studies have shown that dementia can be caused by or results from depression. Dementia is a body’s way of coping with extreme depression. Senior Helpers of Charleston, a senior home health care service, can help.
What is Depression?
According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), depression is defined as “a mental health disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or loss of interest in activities, causing significant impairment in daily life.”
Symptoms of Depression
Depression causes severe symptoms and affects how you eat, what you do, and how you feel. It often causes physical bodily pain. Depression causes feelings of hopelessness and guilt. Weight loss or gain, another symptom, can cause more feelings of worthlessness and guilt - creating a cycle of depression. Depression affects one’s ability to sleep; it causes aches and pains, digestive issues, cramping. It can affect every person differently.
Who is at Risk?
People who have suffered from depression throughout their life are more at risk to develop dementia later in life. Elderly people are more at risk for developing depression as they become more and more limited in their physical abilities. Things they were able to do are no longer possible, and that takes a toll. Elderly patients who are removed from their homes and placed in nursing homes are even more at risk for developing depression than those that are able to stay in the comfort of their own homes. Nursing homes, no matter how well kept, how friendly the staff, can’t compare to the feeling of being home.
How is Depression Linked to Dementia?
Dementia is thought to be a coping mechanism for depression. The brain, unable to handle any more, uses forgetfulness as a way to handle the stress. It simply erases parts of the pain. However, the brain isn’t able to target memories of pain and ends up just erasing everything.
What Can Be Done?
While there is no cure for dementia, there are preventive measures that you can take to help stave off the depression that is often associated with old age. Senior Helpers keeps your loved ones in their homes, which limits the risk for depression. Visiting your loved ones will also keep them in good spirits and provide them with something to look forward to. Weekly events, activities, and outings are another great way to support an elevated mood.