Late-Life Depression

Late-life depression can affect about 6 million Americans age 65 and older; however, only 10% of these people receive treatment for their depression. Why is this? Simple – The elderly often display symptoms of depression differently, and is frequently confused with the effects of multiple illnesses and the medicines used to treat them.

What is depression and what are its symptoms?

Depression, in a nutshell, is an illness caused by chemical imbalances in the brain. It is not just your typical, everyday sadness and it is treatable. Medications and psychotherapy for people of any age who suffer are always open options to getting the treatment they deserve for an illness that can be quite crippling. Certain chemicals in our brains are responsible for mood control, and when these are out of balance, we can feel upset or emotionally guilty even when there is nothing compelling happening in our lives.

There can be physical symptoms of depression including changes in weight and appearance, sleep disturbances such as insomnia or oversleeping, and physically slower movements or being more agitated than usual. The people who experience depression usually have no control over the guilt and other emotions they are feeling, and some may even have thoughts of death and suicide in very unfortunate cases.

What can depression mean for the elderly?

In an older person rather than a younger person experiencing the symptoms of depression, there are certainly many risks. Depression can double an elderly person’s risk of cardiac diseases and also increase their risk of death from illness. It affects their ability to rehabilitate by reducing the likelihood according to studies from nursing homes that show patients with physical illnesses will have a stronger increase of death from their illnesses if depression is prevalent. It has been associated with increased risk of death following a major heart attack. These are the very reasons why it is beneficial for an elderly person to be evaluated and treated if there is a concern that they may be suffering from this illness.

Where does swimming come into play with all of this information?

Swimming can have many benefits in somebody who is dealing with debilitating depression on all kinds of levels. Swimming is an activity that stimulates brain chemicals in the body that promote nerve cell growth, in turn producing ANP, which is a stress-reducing hormone. It controls a brain’s response to anxiety and stress. Since all of these things work in tandem to help the body feel better, it can in turn make the mind feel much better and more relaxed. This is extremely beneficial to an elderly person who is fighting the battle with depression and in desperate need of stress reduction.

Even if swimming is only a temporary relief from depression, it can still be very beneficial, as it appears to help greatly with stress. In a study conducted, those who exercise daily are 25% less likely to have an emergence of depression within the upcoming five years. It can be a great prevention method to the elderly, who could end up facing the illness sometime in their lives. All in all, this may be a splendid way to gain some control over the ill effects of depression.