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Coping With Depression

By Janet Crozier
(Page 1 of 3)  

Seniors around the country flock to Florida for its nonstop sunshine and laid-back lifestyle, its lack of a state income tax and absence of snow. Florida has the highest percentage of residents age 65 and older - 17.6 percent - of any state.

But for all of the sunshine’s purported benefits on improving mood, depression and suicide among Florida’s senior population are a major health care concern.

“I just didn’t feel like going on anymore,” says a Jacksonville-area woman, aged 76, who declined to give her name. “Once my husband died, I sort of lost motivation to get up in the morning anymore.” She struggled with depression for years before seeking treatment.

Aging, with its life changes and inevitable losses, often precipitates a variety of life stressors that can lead to depression. Whether it’s the loss of a longtime spouse, major health problems and the accompanying medical bills, the loss of driving privileges, moving from a beloved home to an assisted living facility, or all of the above, seniors face unique changes and challenges that can lead to depression.

While most seniors are satisfied with their lives, those who are struggling can feel isolated and overwhelmed. Depression affects an estimated 7 million of the 35 million Americans 65 and older, according to the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health.

“Depression is not a normal condition. If seniors start feeling any of the signs and symptoms of depression, they should talk to their doctor,” says Dr. John Montgomery, a family physician, medical epidemiologist and vice-president of Senior Care Solutions with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida. “It’s a condition that can be treated medically and should not be considered a natural part of aging. It’s a myth that seniors automatically get depressed as they age.”


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