-Dr. Kathy Johnson, Phd, CMC
Factors that increase the risk of depression in the elderly include: Being female, unmarried (especially if widowed), stressful life events and lack of a supportive social network. Other risk factors include having physical conditions like stroke, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, cancer and dementia. All of these conditions increase the risk of depression.
While depression may be an effect of certain health problems, it can also increase a person’s risk of developing other illnesses- primarily those affecting the immune system, like infections.
The following risk factors for depression are often seen in the elderly:
- Certain medicines or combination of medicines
- Other illnesses
- Past suicide attempt(s)
- Substance abuse
- Living alone, social isolation
- Recent bereavement
- Presence of chronic or severe pain
- Damage to the body image (from amputation, cancer surgery, or heart attack)
- Fear of Death of depression
- Family history of depression
- Previous history