Severe Depression Linked to Dementia in Seniors

Life happens. A sudden and difficult unexpected event, or a series of events can put you in a funk. In most cases, coming down with the blues doesn't happen overnight. Instead it's the compilation of little things that start to weigh you down. You're an empty nester. You've got health problems, worry about money, or feel isolated. Or maybe you're in your senior years, taking care of someone who needs a lot of assistance.

If you're feeling down, depressed, or notice that your happiness meter doesn't perk up like it used to, see your doctor. Treating depression earlier, rather than later, can save you a lot of worry and down-in-the-dump days. Medication, lifestyle changes, and talk therapy can help. Even spending time in nature, watching funny shows, exercising, and spending time with others can make a difference.

Treating depression is important, but not just to improve your mood and outlook on life, especially if you're a senior. New research published in JAMA Psychiatry suggests that depression, if left untreated in seniors, raises the risk for dementia. In the study, researchers followed 2,500 seniors for five years. They monitored this group of people for depression and tracked the number of people who developed dementia.

They found that 21 percent of people with serious signs of depression developed dementia. But only 12 percent of those who experienced the blues from time to time developed dementia. It's one more reason to recognize that your mental health is just as important as your physical health.

If you think you might be depressed or experience feelings of frustration, anger, loneliness, anxiety, or fatigue, more often than normal, talk to your doctor, counselor, or member of your healthcare team. Treating depression before it becomes a serious problem could add years to your life, and life to your years.

Anything you can do to slow the aging process can improve your quality of life. That includes treating depression if you have it. Along with getting regular exercise, visiting the doctor for recommended check-ups and exams, eating a balanced diet can keep you healthy as you age. Check out the Senior-Friendly meal menu and you find a great selection of entrees that are just the right portion size and lower in sodium to meet your needs.