NDSU Extension Service - Ramsey County


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Understanding Depression in Later Life

Understanding Depression in Later Life


            Depression is a mental health condition characterized by an inability to concentrate: insomnia; loss of appetite; physical tiredness or fatigue; feeling of extreme sadness, guilt, helplessness and hopelessness and thoughts of despair, discouragement and death. 

            Dictionaries define “later life” as towards the end of someone’s life” or “the last segment of adulthood”.

            What do the two definitions have in common?  Unfortunately their common link is that depression is part of life for too many Americans.  The Journal of the American Psychological Association links depressions with anywhere from15-20 percent of older Americans.

            What we know about depression has changed greatly over time, but depression and its symptoms are still a confusing topic for many.  Answer each of the following questions about depression“”True” or “False”.

1.      Individuals dealing with depression usually can overcome it if they just work to cheer themselves up or pull themselves up by their bootstraps.

            Answer; False

2.      Seeking assistance from a doctor or mental health professional for depression is a sign of inability to handle your problems or personal weakness.


Answer:  False


3.      Depression is an important condition to understand because it affects a significant number of people and can have severe consequences.

Answer; True

4.      Depression is usually marked by a variety of symptoms occurring together during a period of more than two weeks.

Answer: True


5.      Depression affects only a person’s emotional state.  Depression does not result in physical fatigue or diminished motivation.

Answer: False.


6.      Positive factors that protect someone from depression include effective clinical care and treatment, family, community and professional support; healthy living practices and skills in problems solving and stress management

           Answer: True.

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