If you have a sad, despairing mood that lasts for more than two weeks, it may be depression.
Depression is not the same as sadness, though it can be triggered by the sadness caused by loss (e.g., loss of a loved one, loss of hearing), stress or major life change (e.g., retirement, moving). Depression can also be caused by some medical conditions, such as chronic pain, thyroid problems, stroke or Alzheimer’s disease. Certain medications and alcohol use can cause depression as well. Depression may also develop for no apparent reason.
People who are depressed cannot just “get over it.” Depression is a biological illness caused by a chemical imbalance in the brain. It affects thoughts, feelings, behaviour and physical health.
Older adults who are depressed may have had episodes of depression throughout their lives, or they may have their first episode late in life.
Depression can affect anyone at any age, but is often not recognized in older adults. This is because some signs of depression can be mistaken for signs of aging, and also because older adults who are depressed may not complain about feeling low. When left untreated, depression may continue for weeks, months or even years. Untreated depression is the main cause of suicide in older adults.