Depression is a serious mental health issue that can take many forms. Feeling depressed can be a difficult and overwhelming experience. Clinical depression, also known as major depression, is not just feeling down for a few days; it's persistent sadness and lack of interest that affects how one thinks, feels, and functions on an everyday basis.
Depression is an ongoing condition that affects many people, potentially leading to powerful and difficult symptoms.
The physical symptoms of depression include:
Sleep Problems, chest pain , fatigue and exhaustion, chronic bodily pain and headaches, digestive problems and sexual problems.
Many experience depression have a decreased libido .Unfortunately, Some prescription drugs that treat depression can also affect libido
Emotional symptoms include feelings of sadness, tearfulness or emptiness; For me, I could be talking to a patient one moment, and have overwhelming sadness and feeling tearful the next moment. It was not something I could control and to be honest, it was embarrassing at times.
I want to interject here, that I have been on positive Proton inhibitors for over 25 years. These are medications like prilosec and nexium. They are not meant for long term use, as they negatively impact magnesium blood levels. For those that have been on these meds long term, get your magnesium levels checked. my were borderline low.
Now, Medicare won't pay for an injection of magnesium to boost your levels. I had to go to a functional medicine doctor and privately pay for that injection. A few days after that injection, I realized that I was no longer feeling emotionally labile. I now take magnesium supplements to keep my magnesium levels up. And it has made a difference.
I recommend that you listen to my audio cast on Natural Treatments to Overcome Depression. I am a firm believer in the east meets western medicine approach to health care. I incorporate as many different approaches into my physical and mental health conditions, as I can. Especially to improve depression symptoms I so often feel.
Other symptoms of depression may include:
Anger outbursts or irritability
Reduced interest in activities normally enjoyed such as sex, hobbies and sports;
Difficulties with sleep (including difficulty sleeping at all) to sleeping too much,
Low energy levels even when carrying out small tasks;
Changes in appetite - increased cravings for food might lead to weight gain while a lack of appetite may cause you to lose weight instead
Restlessness and slowed thinking are also common signs.
I want to make my listeners aware that restlessness is a sign of anxiety. Depression and an anxiety disorder often go hand in hand.
Guilt over past failures alongside worthlessness often accompany depression symptoms too.
For those feeling depressed, they can often feel overwhelmed by life's everyday routines. From the workplace to social events and even relationships, it takes a heavy toll on their wellbeing and leaves them feeling unmotivated or feel sad or blue for no clear reason.
I worked in senior behavioral health. I saw many elderly patients that had a vast array of mental health disorders. So, I want to take time to address the mental health crisis we are facing in our elderly.
The Mental Health Crisis we are Facing in our Elderly
Depression is a serious issue in the elderly that should not be overlooked. It's important to remember that symptoms of depression may vary among older adults and can include changes in memory capacity, chronic physical pain, low energy levels or loss of appetite; these issues are often not caused by medical illnesses alone. Many suffer from a mental health condition, and develop depression as a result of life events or have a family history of depression or childhood trauma.
Additionally, socially withdrawing from others and as well as suicide symptoms and thoughts – especially among elderly men -are also potential signs of depression in this age group.
Depression is a serious medical condition that can affect anyone, regardless of age. Unfortunately, seniors are particularly vulnerable to developing depression due its associations with other physical health conditions and common life events such as the loss of loved ones.
Depression is often a side effect after a Stroke
Shockingly, research suggests that almost over 600 k out of 2 million people who experience a stroke every year will also suffer from clinical depression. Symptoms of clinical depression can be triggered by other a chronic illness that commonly occurs in later life. These medical disease such as Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, heart disease, cancer and arthritis can have depressive symptoms during the course of the disease process.
Moreover 19 million Americans battle this disorder yearly - including 1 in 8 individuals aged 65 or older presenting symptoms on any given day. It's clear that senior citizens should be advised not to accept feelings related to this illness as "normal" responses but instead seek professional help for proper diagnosis & treatment if signs appear. Depression and lethargy are often the first signs and symptoms of dementia.
Lack of understanding and misinformation about depression
Research suggests that many older adults are unaware of or misinformed about depression, as only 68% know little to nothing on the subject. Even more concerning is their belief that depression isn't a health problem (38%) and tendency to handle it themselves rather than seeking professional help (42%).
This lack of understanding might be why signs such as changes in eating habits, sleeping patterns, and sadness go unnoticed by people aged 65+ at higher rates compared with those under 64. Sadly, 58% even regard feeling sad or down from time-to-time as 'normal' .
Mental health issues can arise as we age. Yet only 3% of those aged 65 and over are receiving treatment from mental health professionals. Worse still, primary care physicians fail to accurately recognize depression in almost half their patients - leading to costly extended hospital stays for the elderly. It's crucial that we prioritize better recognition measures within our healthcare systems, especially in the mental health area, so seniors can enjoy healthy lives both mentally and physically.
Nevertheless it's essential we continue educating all ages on the seriousness of mental health conditions like clinical depression so everyone can receive proper treatment when needed.
Addressing mental health concerns early on will help ensure seniors have an active lifestyle with meaningful connections for years to come!
I suffer from treatment resistant depression. I also suffer from chronic pain, and this contributes to my symptoms of depression. There are many things I do when I feel depressed to overcome those feelings. Sadly, the general population do not understand that there are many different types of depression. Many do not know what it is like to experience depression. They do not understand the feelings of a depressed mood and how many individuals feel sad all the time.
Before I address the psychedelic and other treatments to alleviate the symptoms of depression, I want to address the types of common mental health disorders that include depressive disorders and anxiety disorders.
So let's talk about the mental disorders, or a mood disorder that causes symptoms of depression
Remember, depression affects different people in different ways. So it's important to be aware of the signs and take steps towards getting help.
One of the most common types of depression is major depressive disorder (MDD). People with Major Depressive Disorder experience persistent feelings of sadness, worthlessness, and emptiness that interfere with their daily lives. Other symptoms include changes in appetite or sleep patterns, difficulty concentrating, fatigue, and thoughts of death or suicide. Additionally, individuals struggling with the condition called major depressive disorder, may find it difficult to participate in activities they once enjoyed. This is called anhedonia.
What is anhedonia?
Anhedonia is a condition that can come with varying levels of difficulty, leaving those who experience it feeling disconnected from the things they enjoy most. It's been linked to various mental and physical health issues, so talking with your doctor or counsellor about how you're feeling may be an important first step towards restoring some pleasure in life again.
Persistent depressive disorder (PDD)
PDD is another type of depression that sometimes goes unrecognized due to its long duration and milder symptoms. Persistent Depressive Disorder involves depressed moods that last for at least two years and can be accompanied by other symptoms such as low motivation, poor self-esteem, and decreased interest in activities.
In some cases, PDD can lead to long-term physical health problems as well. I have seen several elderly patients that were treated by their family members badly. Many family members accuse a family member of being lazy, uninterested in life. A person suffering from Persistent depressive disorder is often left alone, as family members take the lack of interest in them and their lives as hurtful and uncaring. Of course, the symptoms of depression were subtle and happened over time. And went untreated.
Symptoms of PDD may be an early sign of dementia
I do want to take time here to tell my listeners that many of the symptoms of PDD, may actually have the beginnings of dementia. I recommend that you encourage your family member or friend to seek help from their primary care physician to get an accurate diagnosis. Your PCP may recommend further evaluation by a mental health professional.
What is seasonal affective disorder
Seasonal affective disorder is another type of common mental disorders that cause depressive episodes. Seasonal affective disorder is caused by reduced exposure to sunlight and can lead to depression in the elderly. It is important for family members, caregivers and healthcare professionals to be aware of SAD symptoms such as lethargy, hopelessness, and decreased concentration levels. LED light therapy is often used as an effective treatment for SAD by simulating natural sunlight with a light box device. Regular exercise has also been known to help reduce depression, so encouraging physical activity can be beneficial.
What is Bipolar Disorder?
Bipolar disorder , also called manic depression, is a serious mental health disorder that can cause extreme shifts in mood and behavior. While many are familiar with the highs associated with mania, they may be less aware of the lows - bipolar depression - which affects those living with this illness on an everyday basis. Symptoms such as feelings of sadness or hopelessness, lack of interest in activities once enjoyed, and severe symptoms lasting for months can profoundly impact their quality-of-life. Bipolar depression symptoms can be the most severe depression a person can experience. Many that suffer from bipolar depression have multiple suicide attempts throughout their lives.
As it's always important to know your options when dealing with any mental health disorder like bipolar disorder; recognizing its unique symptoms and seeking treatment could make all the difference between managing life’s complexities or feeling helplessly overwhelmed by them.
Traditional treatments, effective treatments, and the growing new psychedelic depression medicines entering the market.
First I would like to address the traditional depression medications that are consistently ordered by physicians. Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) and tricyclic antidepressants are the initial medications prescribed to address symptoms of depression. These medications can take as long as 6 weeks to improve depression symptoms.
As I said before, I suffer from treatment resistant depression. That means I have tried every antidepressant medication on the planet. Maybe not EVERY antidepressant, but a lot of them. For me, they would work for a time, then, they would stop working. My mental health professional would increase the dose, until my body adjusted, then they would stop working again. Then there was always the introduction of anther medication that works with your anti depressant to enhance its ability to treat depression. Over time, I just gave up. In fact, I had a prescription problem over one Christmas holiday that left me without medications for a few days.
I had hit my donut hole in my prescription plan and the cost for my medications was going to be over $500 for a one month supply. I had terrible and unexpected withdrawal symptoms. And the pharmacy and even the doctor's office was unable to assist me.
SSRI withdrawal is unpleasant. Wean slowly
So a word of warning for those trying to quit SSRI antidepressant medications . It can be a difficult and potentially dangerous process, according to the findings of an international research team. They found that withdrawal symptoms from quitting these drugs are comparable in many ways with those encountered when trying to stop taking addictive benzodiazepine sedatives or barbiturates - and could last for weeks, months, even years!
In addition, entirely new psychiatric disorders were also observed amongst individuals who discontinued their usage of SSRIs. Although there is significant variability regarding how pervasive such syndromes may be among patients attempting this transition period off medication , they seem quite common overall. I decided I would deal with my depression symptoms in alternative ways.
Ketamine for treatment resistant depression
So, when I learned of ketamine, and the results it was having on severe depression with suicide ideation, I was excited. You see, my oldest son was a disabled veteran with a terrible pain condition. It is called the suicide disease for a reason. The unrelenting pain, and dealing with our military medical delivery system left my son with PTSD. I was working in Philadelphia at the time. There was a doctor there, Dr Robert Schwartzman at Hahnemann Hospital. He was treating my sons pain condition with ketamine coma's. Of course, ketamine was not FDA approved for anything but, anesthesia in the 1990's.
The treatments were being studied in Germany and other countries. Sadly, the military denied my son that treatment. Geoff succumbed to the feelings of hopelessness and pain. He completed suicide sept 15 2011.
My youngest son, also an army veteran became a certified nurse anesthetist. He opened a ketamine clinic 3 years ago. I went to help him for a few months as he started this new business venture.
Ketamine is the new breakthrough medication for treating depression .
It is the first time in 50 years that there has been new medication. It is changing the way mental disorders with symptoms of depression, even depression in the most severe form, suicide ideation, is making a difference. And the results can be felt in as little as 2 hours. I hope you'll take time to listen to my series on the benefits of ketamine
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT)
I have been a nurse almost 50 years. I have cared for patients that have received electroconvulsive therapy for their severe depressive symptoms. ECT is often associated with short-term memory loss and difficulty learning, which can cause memorable moments to fade away until they are recalled by a few months down the line. The professionals will tell you its only temporary for some patients, I have seen many experience longer lasting memories gaps. In fact, it affects a person ability to learn, Many have lost their procedural memory.
What is Procedural Memory?
Our past makes us who we are, especially when it comes to the tasks we do on a daily basis. Through procedural memory - an unconscious long-term recall which resides underneath our conscious awareness - each experience is subconsciously stored and contributes to how well (and perhaps even more efficiently!) you'll be able to complete that same task again in the future!
This procedure is done under general anesthesia and an electrical pulse causes a person to have a seizure. Psychedelic psychiatry is taking a gentler and more humane approach to mental disorders.
Psychedelic Psychiatry in the future
The National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Alcoholism teamed up to present an enlightening NIH Workshop focused on exploring possible therapeutics derived from psychedelics.
Expert opinion discussed how different psychedelic compounds may act upon mental or physical conditions, along with clinical trials demonstrating their efficacy and potential utility in treating those suffering from conditions such as major depression, bipolar disorder with bipolar depression, anxiety disorders and other mood disorders
It is clear that there are positive effects associated with appropriate use of these agents and steps are being taken to bring them into the mainstream.
OF course, with all mental health treatment, talk therapy should be part of any treatment plan.
Problem solving treatment (PST) and psychedelic-assisted therapy are two possible approaches to treating depression in seniors.
PST has been shown to reduce depressive symptoms by teaching individuals to develop and implement problem-solving strategies. Psychedelic-assisted therapy utilizes psychedelics such as LSD, psilocybin mushrooms or ayahuasca to help individuals explore their emotions and feelings in order to better manage depression.
Studies suggest that both P S T and psychedelic-assisted therapy can be effective treatments for depression in the elderly, although more research is needed to determine the most effective approach. PST can help seniors develop strategies to cope with life’s challenges and recognize their own strengths, while psychedelic-assisted therapy can provide an opportunity for deep exploration of emotions and feelings in order to gain insight into their depression. Working with a qualified therapist is an important part of both PST and psychedelic-assisted therapy, as it can help ensure the best possible outcome for the individual.
The FDA approval for ketamine to treat depression and other mental disorders has opened the door to the emergence of psychedelic psychiatry. Recent findings have shed light on the powerful therapeutic potential of psychedelic drugs. In what has been dubbed a 'psychedelic renaissance', clinical trials are beginning to establish these compounds as safe, with promising signs for treating various mental health conditions. As such, scientists and clinicians around the world are now eagerly uncovering more information about their great promise - heralding in an exciting era that could see psychedelics revolutionize modern medicine. The american psychiatric association supports the role of psychedelics in psychiatry.
MDMA assisted therapy
In fact, as of 2023, MDMA assisted therapy is on track to receive FDA approval. Psychedelics have been around since the 1950s and their name literally means “mind-manifesting.” These drugs create changes in perception, thought, mood without disorientation or confusion - different from other substances like alcohol and benzodiazepines that slow down cognitive processes or speed them up like stimulants do.
With promising clinical proof of substantial improvement over current treatments, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is committed to catalyzing access to psychedelic drugs as a potential source for relief from major depressive disorder (MDD), treatment-resistant depression, and post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
Psilocybin assisted psychotherapy
Psilocybin assisted psychotherapy has been granted Breakthrough Therapy designation by FDA in order to expedite its process of approval.
Researchers at Imperial College London recently made a groundbreaking leap to repurpose illegal drugs into therapies for mental health treatments. Through the use of psilocybin - found in magic mushrooms - alongside psychotherapy or talk therapy, their phase 2 trial concluded that it is as effective as current pharmaceuticals used for major depression. This follows an ongoing push to safely explore psychoactive substances and utilize them within controlled conditions on our pursuit towards better mental health treatment.
Psilocybin, is an alkaloid that can be consumed to induce a temporary state of altered consciousness. This unique experience results in vivid mental imagery, increased creativity and insight - even spiritual enlightenment for some!
Recent studies have provided evidence that these compounds may hold the key to understanding our minds better than ever before; with potential therapeutic benefits ranging from alleviating anxiety & major depression all the way through accessing new perceptual states. Ultimately it promises a newfound awareness into our deepest thoughts & feelings.
Is psychedelic medicine in your future?
Mental health conditions may soon have a revolutionary new treatment option - psychedelic medicine. Studies are showing promising results, with clients finding significant improvements and few side effects following their use of psychedelics in tandem with psychotherapy. These treatments could be game-changers for future psychiatric research as well as the lives of those who suffer from mental illness; they offer unprecedented possibilities to find relief and create healing pathways that weren't previously available.
If you have a family member or friend that suffers from a severe form of depression and experiences suicidal thoughts, please make them aware of the national suicide prevention lifeline. The new number is 988.
988 is here for you - anytime, day or night. Reaching out to the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline puts you in contact with a knowledgeable team of counselors dedicated to helping people find emotional relief and access supportive resources. Don't be afraid to pick up the phone - help is always just one call away!
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