Combatting Depression Online
The author is a Gold Medalist in Human Development . In her past she has worked with “people with special challenges” and now she’s working on Elderly Care.
Loneliness can fuel depression in older adults, and experts estimate that as many as 22% of elderly Indians are suffering from depression with an IQR(Inter Quartile Range) ranging from 11.6 to 31.1 which is an alarming rate. There was significant increase in the number of depressed elderly individuals, which had a booming eight-fold increase from the period 1955-1984 to 1995-2005. Loss of Care and bonding from family support systems, less competitive lifestyles, and improved mental health facilities, with their integration with primary health care, could account for lesser prevalence rates in India.
What causes depression in elderly?
Doctors report the following factors to be the probable reasons for depression among elderly
- Psychological – Depression can be a side effect of some medications commonly prescribed to older persons, such as medications to treat hypertension. Depression in the elderly population can be complicated and compounded by dependence on substances such as alcohol which acts as a depressant.
- Biological – Scientists think that some people inherit a biological make-up that makes them more prone to depression. Imbalances in certain brain chemicals like norepinephrine, serotonin and dopamine are thought to be involved in major depression.
- Environmental – For some older people, particularly those with lifelong histories of depression, the development of a disabling illness, loss of a spouse or a friend, retirement, moving out of the family home or some other stressful event may bring about the onset of a depressive episode.
- Genetic – While some people become depressed for no easily identified reason, depression tends to run in families and the vulnerability is often passed from parents to children. When such a genetic vulnerability exists, other factors like prolonged stress, loss or a major life change can trigger the depression.
. Depression in older persons is characterized by:-
- Memory problems
- Social withdrawal
- Loss of appetite
- Weight loss
- Vague complaints of pain
- Inability to sleep
- Delusions (fixed false beliefs)
Older individuals who are depressed often have severe feelings of sadness but these feelings frequently are not acknowledged or openly shown; sometimes, when asked if they are “depressed,” the answer is “no.” Some general clues that someone may be experiencing depression are:
- Persistent and vague complaints
- Moving in a more slow manner
- Demanding behavior
Technology is a great way to keep the generations connected. If getting your family together is not feasible because of schedules or health issues, why not develop a plan to help your mom make regular contact with your family using technology, say SKYPE video calls, where families can hear and see one another, even from a distance. If your senior needs more training in some of these computer issues, perhaps she would like to take a class or sessions to learn the use of internet. A basic communication tool like email can help isolated older people combat loneliness and depression, a new study suggests. Affordable web cams could be a gift to your mom so that she watch her grandchildren or great-grandchildren playing a song on the piano or showing off their latest school project.
The key is that the Internet helps older adults stay in contact with their friends and family and to feel part of a larger community,” said study lead author Shelia Cotten, a professor with the department of telecommunication, information studies and media at Michigan State University in East Lansing. “They’re still actively engaged in some segment of our society, and they’re not feeling like life has passed them by.”
The researchers linked Internet use to a 33 percent lower probability of depression and the reduction in depression was greatest for people living alone, they said.One social scientist said it’s clear from research that older adults are very motivated to keep social networks intact, and that positive social relations are beneficial to both physical and mental health. “This all suggests there is potential for health benefits for those who are using the Internet to enhance their social lives,” added Lindsay Ryan, an assistant research scientist with the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
In the big picture, Cotten said, the new study reveals the value of the Internet to older adults. But there’s a catch: They may need help mastering this 21st-century tool, she said. “You can’t put a piece of technology in front of them and tell them to go use it like you can with a child, you have to start from the beginning, even showing them how to turn on a computer, and show them how technology can be useful in their lives.”
Despite these findings, the researchers added that moderation is key. Older adults should take the time to use the Internet while staying active and social in other aspects of life.
“If you sit in front of a computer all day, ignoring the roles you have in life and the things you need to accomplish as part of your daily life, then it’s going to have a negative impact on you,” Cotten explained. “But if you’re using it in moderation and you’re doing things that enhance your life, then the impacts are likely to be positive in terms of health and well-being.”
Learning should continue all your Life and so gear up your mental IQ and start learning new technology of the 21st century, that’s internet.