Depression and Aging

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Anne Roth
PSY 208
8 April 2013
Depression and Aging
Major Depressive Disorder is a condition characterized by one or more major depressive episodes without a history of manic, mixed, or hypomanic episodes. It is medical condition that can cause a wide variety of psychological and physical symptoms. It can be distinguished from ordinary sadness and grief because depression is persistent, interfering with daily activities and relationships. Depression appears in different people, and they are affected in different ways. Some have trouble sleeping, they lose weight, and may feel agitated and irritable. Others may sleep and eat too much and continuously feel worthless and guilty. Still others can function reasonably well at work and put on a happy face in front of others, while deep down they feel quite depressed and disinterested in life. The risk of suffering from a major depressive episode at some time during a person’s life is up to 12 percent for men and 25 percent for women. In the United States alone, 3.4% of people with major depression successfully commit suicide. That isn’t even included the others in the country who have attempted, but failed. Depression isn’t bias, it will affect anyone of any age.

Although the exact cause of depression is still uncertain, studies suggest that depression is accompanied by changes in neurochemicals in the brain, such as serotonin, norepinephrine, and dopamine. “These neurochemicals allow cells to communicate with each other and play an essential role in all brain functions, including movement, sensation, memory, and emotions. That depression affects the brain is supported by the results of genetic studies and the response of depression to drug therapy and other therapies that alter levels of brain neurochemicals.” (Lyness, Jeffrey M) In addition to the brain, social factors can also be involved such as isolation and criticism from peers or family members. Loss and interpersonal problems can also contribute to onset of depression.

Extreme sadness is probably the most known symptom of depression, although depression also includes other psychological and physical symptoms. Depression can be tricky to identify as there is no one distinct symptom. As a matter of fact, most people do not recognize that they are depressed or that their physical symptoms such as aches, appetite, and sleep changes are related to depression.

Teenagers by nature are very moody beings. Their bodies are changing, and their hormones are wrecking havoc. Being moody doesn’t constitute being depressed. However, one in every eight adolescents has teen depression. There are many reasons as to why a teenager may become depressed. A teenager can feel worthless over their school grades. School performance, social status with their peers, discovering their sexual orientation,

or their family life can have a major effect of how teenagers feel. Teen depression can even result from environmental stress.
“Often, kids with teen depression will have a noticeable change in their thinking and behavior. They may have no motivation and even become withdrawn, closing their bedroom door after school and staying in their room for hours.” (Goldberg, Joseph) Symptoms of teen depression can include apathy, complaints of pain, difficulty concentrating and making decisions, irresponsible behavior, and excessive or inappropriate guilt. They can also have a sudden drop in grades and become withdrawn from their friends.

With the risk of teen depression comes the risk of teen suicide. Adolescent suicide is the second leading cause of death, following accidents, among youth and young adults in the United States. It is estimated that 500,000 teens attempt suicide every year. Of the 500,000 teens, 5,000 of them succeed in taking their own lives. Warning signs for teen suicide include expressing hopelessness for the future, giving up on one’s self and talking as if no one around you cares, and...
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