By WVUA 23 Web Writer Emily Strickland
Dr. John Burkhardt discussed geriatric depression on Health Matters Wednesday.
Burkhardt said that general depression has increased 18 percent according to the World Health Organization.
“As we age things change, and [the elderly]can be susceptible to depression even if they don’t have a history of depression,” Burkhardt said.
Burkhardt listed many reasons that elderly patients can develop depression later in life, including health changes, occupation changes, and loss of friends and family.
Faith can also be a comfort for some patients dealing with geriatric depression, Burkhardt said.
“I have met a few people that have used their faith very well as a way to comfort them,” Burkhardt said. “In this case, the person I’m thinking of is Christian, so they believe that when they pass away, they’re going to go to heaven and they’re going to be with God. So, in this case, that person used their belief as a self-protecting mechanism because they already knew where they were going.”
Burkhardt said that elderly patients often have more complaints about cognitive and physiological symptoms like memory loss rather than mental or emotional symptoms like anxiety.
Diagnosing depression is important because it carries an increased risk of mild cognitive impairment and dementia and increased healthcare costs, Burkhardt said.
There are also a multitude of treatment options available for patients diagnosed with geriatric depression depending on the patient, Burkhardt said.
“When you start to picture the person and identify them, then you also want to start to identify treatments that are useful for them as well,” Burkhardt said.