Lee Edition

Depression in Those 55+ is a Growing Concern

One of the most common ailments that doctors treat annually is depression. Nearly 15 million people in the United States are affected by depression. Persistent Depressive Disorder or PDD is a chronic type of depression that usually last for more than a year and can be difficult to treat successfully.

As we age, enjoying time with family and friends and experiencing lasting memories are what we think is supposed to happen, but many times sadness and depression take place in the aging population. Why? Multiple factors can play a role in depression, such as grandchildren and children living far away, Chronic health conditions that arise, busy schedules, missing loved ones that have passed on or feelings of isolation, addictions, or perhaps the worries of retirement finances, to name a few. Many times, depression is a natural state and is short lived, but if depression is chronic, it can lead to debilitating circumstances.

There are neurotransmitters throughout the entire body that send signals to the brain, alerting us instantaneously of depression. Depression is made up of both psychological and physical symptoms. The psychological part creates insomnia, forgetfulness, lethargy, and sadness, while the physical aspect can produce arterial restrictions, a weakened immune system, and shortness of breath.

When depressive disorders are left untreated or undertreated, several areas of the brain like the hippocampus (regulates emotions) and the prefrontal cortex (decision making, planning abilities) shrink causing long-term damage. Overall, the health and wellness of the body and mind are at risk of infection, disease and chronic depressive episodes that can lead to suicidal tendencies.

Depression is NOT a Normal Part of Aging
According to the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention):

Someone who is depressed has feelings of sadness or anxiety that last for weeks at a time.

He or she may also experience the following:
• Feelings of hopelessness and/or pessimism
• Feelings of guilt, worthlessness and/or helplessness
• Irritability, restlessness
• Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable
• Fatigue and decreased energy
• Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions
• Insomnia, early–morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
• Overeating or appetite loss
• Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
• Persistent aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not get better, even with treatment

It’s critical to seek treatment.

At Lehigh Regional Medical Center, quality care is our number one priority. Our inpatient behavioral health unit will reside within the hospital and will be designed specifically for adults ages 55 and older who are experiencing a wide range of emotional, social and behavioral issues that affect the healthy function of their daily lives. We believe that a supportive, family-oriented environment is one of the first steps to recovery, and we encourage family involvement in our patients’ care.

Our team will offer a wide range of medical and behavioral health services, including:
• Psychiatric assessment and treatment
• Management of medical conditions
• Medication management
• Dietary consultation
• Recreational therapy assessment and treatment
• Psychotherapy: individual, family and group
• Education for patients and families on diagnosis, treatment options and medications
• Assistance with discharge planning and financial issues

• Also, the hospital will resume its Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) program.

For those who can’t use or don’t respond to medication or psychotherapy, ECT is a treatment option. It can also help patients in life-threatening situations; for example, someone at risk of suicide.

*The behavioral therapy unit also offers a 7 day program, 35 hours a week of activities, which include group therapy, art therapy, drug and alcohol therapy, sit down dinners, and much more.

The Details of ECT
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is a medical treatment option most commonly used to treat patients who suffer from major depressive disorder, bipolar disorder, or schizophrenia, when other treatments including medications and psychotherapy haven’t worked. ECT is also used in treating individuals with catatonia. Many patients begin to see improvement after only a few treatments.

According to the American Psychiatric Association, clinical evidence indicates that for individuals with uncomplicated, but severe major depression, ECT will produce substantial improvement in nearly 80% of the population.

During ECT treatment the patient remains under general anesthesia while the brain is given brief electrical stimulation. This causes a seizure in the brain that will last approximately one minute.

In addition to the American Psychiatric Association, ECTs effectiveness in treating severe mental illness is recognized by the American medical Association, the National Institute of Mental Health, and similar organizations in Canada, Great Britain and many other countries.

Lehigh Regional Medical Center, a member of Prime Healthcare, is accredited by The Joint Commission with the Gold Seal of Approval as an 88-bed acute-care facility. Committed to compassionate care, Lehigh Regional Medical Center has uniquely served its five-county community in Lehigh Acres, Florida, since 1965.

The state-of-the-art facility provides specialty care services that include Emergency Services, Cardiology, Critical Care, Gastroenterology, General Surgery, Nephrology, Orthopedics, Otolaryngology, Pulmonology and Women’s Health. We deliver patient-centered healthcare with dignity and respect for all.

Lehigh Regional Medical Center


Related Articles

Back to top button