We all feel sad from time to time. It’s part of life. But when we stop enjoying things we used to, and have trouble getting up in the morning, the problem may be more serious. It’s a myth that depression is a natural part of aging. But it is a common problem. According to the Surgeon General, as many as one in five older adults experience symptoms of depression. Depression can be treated successfully. Options include “talk” therapy, medication, and other methods. THERE IS NO REASON TO SUFFER! Although common among older adults, depression is often missed or untreated. Sometimes people think a depressed person is just cranky. Or they think that confusion caused by depression is a sign of Alzheimer’s disease.
One popular tool to assess depression is the Geriatric Depression Scale. It is easy to use and requires no special medical knowledge. It is not a substitute for a diagnosis by a professional, but it can help you see if you need to talk to your doctor about depression.
- Are you basically satisfied with your life?
- Have you dropped many of your activities and interests?
- Do you feel that your life is empty?
- Do you often get bored?
- Are you in good spirits most of the time?
- Are you afraid that something bad is going to happen to you?
- Do you feel happy most of the time?
- Do you often feel helpless?
- Do you prefer to stay at home, rather than going out and doing new things?
- Do you feel you have more problems with memory than most people?
- Do you think it is wonderful to be alive now?
- Do you feel pretty worthless the way you are now?
- Do you feel full of energy?
- Do you feel that your situation is hopeless?
- Do you think that most people are better off than you are?
Scoring: For questions 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 9, 10, 12, 14, and 15, score 1 point for each “yes” response. For questions 1, 5, 7, 11, and 13 score 1 point for each “no” response. If you score more than 5 points, please follow up with your doctor.
Source: Sheikh, J.I. and Yesavage, J.A. (1986). Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS): Recent evidence and development of a shorter version. Clinical Gerontologist, 5, 165-173.
The above information is taken from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Administration on Aging and The National Council on Aging.