Depression is a serious mood disorder and can affect the way you go about your daily life. It impacts the way you act, the way you feel , and the way you think. People who are depressed often have feelings of sadness or anxiety for long periods of time. With the advent of the COVID-19 pandemic in March ’20, we witnessed the loss of family and friends, the need for social isolation to protect yourselves and others, and the economic/financial ramifications of unemployment and business closures. The feelings of loneliness, hopelessness, and sadness may have been quite common as many peoples’ lives suddenly became uprooted and changed dramatically due to the onset of the pandemic. According to the World Health Organization, the COVID-19 pandemic triggered a 25% increase in prevalence of anxiety and depression worldwide. Particularly important to highlight is the development of depression among the elderly in relation to the COVID-19 pandemic.
According to the CDC, older adults are at an increased risk of developing depression as they age. Many older adults will have at least one chronic condition and subsequent development of depression is more common among these individuals. Many individuals develop depression after a major life event, whether it’s the diagnosis of an illness or loss of a loved one. A paper by Taylor et al. (2016) highlights that social isolation is linked to poorer mental health. For a copy of the paper, visit: Journal of Aging and Health. For many older adults, the COVID-19 pandemic hampered their ability to see family and friends. This social isolation can cause feelings of sadness and loneliness that could result in an onset of depression. According to KFF, one in four adults aged 65 or older reported anxiety or depression during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we’re hopefully nearing the end of the COVID-19 pandemic, it is vital that we continue to address the increasing prevalence of depression, particularly among the older adult population. As we are able to spend more time with each other without worry, it’s important that we are there for each other. Especially for older adults, social isolation can be quite harmful and it is vital that the people around them recognize that and provide support to them. It requires family and friends supporting those who display depressive symptoms and encouraging them to go see a provider to seek help. Many people may not think that they have depression or need treatment. However, the people around them may see what they can’t or aren’t willing to see. With National Mental Health Awareness Month coming up just around the corner, let’s do our part in helping the people in our lives who are experiencing depression and continue to raise awareness for this public health issue that has become more prevalent in recent years.
Here is a great compilation of resources from EverdayHealth if you or someone you know may be experiencing depression or are exhibiting behaviors characteristic of depression and anxiety.