July 30, 2007
ATLANTA – In Georgia, the elderly account for 20% of all suicides. Suicide among white males aged 85 and older is nearly six times the suicide rate in the U.S. As many as two million of the country’s thirty-five million seniors, age sixty-five and above, suffer from major depression, and five million have depressive symptoms according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Studies also show that that less than 3% of the elderly receive treatment from mental health professionals. Much like the general population, stigma is often a factor. The Georgia Crisis & Access Line, 1-800-715-4225, is one service that can make a difference.
"Many believe that depression is acceptable part of aging, but it isn’t," said Gwen Skinner, Director for the Georgia Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases. "Signs of depression need to be understood, and families should support loved ones in getting help."
The Georgia Crisis & Access Line can offer both anonymity and confidentiality. In addition, callers can speak to a trained counselor about their symptoms, and receive various treatment options. Appointments with mental health professionals can be made on the spot. Depression that occurs in older adults is commonly known as "late-life" depression and can occur for many reasons. According to studies, many older adults and their caregivers believe that depression is a typical part of aging. Therefore, depression in older adults often goes overlooked and untreated. Symptoms of clinical depression can be triggered by other chronic illnesses common in later life, such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, cancer and arthritis. Fortunately, clinical depression is a very treatable illness. More than 80% of all people with depression can be successfully treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both.
Symptoms of late life depression include a persistent sad, anxious or empty mood, loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, sleeping too little or too much, persistent physical symptoms that don't respond to treatment in addition to difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions, feelings of guilt and thoughts of death.
For information, contact:
Kenya Bello; 404.657.1389