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Recognizing Signs of Depression in a Loved One this Holiday Season

Despite what some may think, depression is not a normal part of aging. However, it is estimated that 6 million older adults have late-life depression. Of these 6 million, less than 10% are receiving treatment as the symptoms of depression can often be overlooked or confused with the side effects of certain medications.


While the holiday season is a time for celebration and family gatherings, it can also be a source of concern and worry, especially for older adults who may miss loved ones or are dealing with health conditions.

While the holiday blues tend to be temporary, depression is a more serious matter that can worsen over time. Depression in older adults can be difficult to recognize as they tend to show different symptoms than younger people. For example, sadness may not be a primary symptom for some seniors with depression. Franklin Park® Senior Living believes that understanding types of depression, and potential signs of depression is the first step to providing help to a friend or loved one.

Understanding Depression

Recognizing the signs of depression can be tough if you lack an understanding of depression itself. Unfortunately, there is stigmatization over the subject, with some sources dismissing depression as a form of sadness that can be “remedied” with simple activities.

Depression is a mood disorder with symptoms that can take a toll on a person’s personality as well as their ability to complete daily tasks. Recognizing the signs of depression in seniors can be difficult as they tend to be less noticeable. Common signs of depression in older adults can include:

  • Sleep habit shifts
  • Irritable or short-tempered mood
  • Fatigue
  • Lack of concentration

Understanding Types of Depression

  • Major Depressive Disorder is the most common form of depression. This type of depression is defined as a mental health disorder that is characterized by a persistent depressed mood and/or loss of interests and hobbies. This type can cause significant impairments with daily living.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder – This disorder, formerly known as dysthymia, is characterized as a low or depressed mood that has persisted for two or more years. A person with Persistent Depressive Disorder may experience sleeping habit changes, appetite changes, and low energy.
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder – This type of depression, nicknamed S.A.D., occurs when the seasons begin to shift. This type of depression is more common in people who live in cloudy regions or at high latitudes.

Awareness and Next Steps

Depression in seniors can take many forms, and as we age, circumstances can shift and cause one to develop these conditions. Events like the passing of a loved one, isolation, recently diagnosed health conditions, or newly prescribed medications can cause someone to develop depression or symptoms of depression.

If you begin to recognize signs of depression in a friend or loved one, it is important that you reach out to them and let them know you care. Making them aware of your presence and treatment options can help to lead them down the road to a healthier and happier life. Depression can be difficult for a loved one to talk about. Here is an excellent resource for talking with a doctor about sensitive subjects, such as depression and mental health.

Franklin Park® Senior Living hopes this article was helpful. For more information regarding senior living and healthy aging, you can check out our blog!