During my recovery from heart surgery, I have suffered from a depression, not a new problem, but an ongoing one. This has been a lifelong struggle, one that I have tried to control. In my younger years, depression was such a stigma, or undiagnosed that it was not talked about it was kept a secret.
As a child I was alone most of the time, and the trust my caretakers placed in me allowed me to roam the woods around my home unsupervised. When around anyone I was quiet, listening and at times living in my own world. As I became older nothing changed, it was the days before going to school. My daddy tended the land, my mother was seen on Sunday’s only and my caretakers let me be myself. The summers were with my daddy’s sister, still quiet; she filled my time guiding me towards creative things. My family thought I was just different, and I was, not “dumb”, just different and quiet.
My cousin by marriage was diagnosed with Schizophrenia, in the mid-50’s her family made the decision to take care of it medically, she was given shock treatment until she did not know who she was, nor did she know anyone else. Her behavior changed to the satisfaction of the family. By then, I had a feeling that may happen to me, but I was lucky. Although my mother threatened me with “putting me away”, she was only being a bully! Secretly, it scared me and I withdrew more, in my mid-teens, I read what happen to people who were different.
Mental health in the mid-20th century was steeped in mystery and controversy. Doctors did not yet know the science behind mental disorders, and psychology was just beginning to uncover the inner secrets of the mind. In the mean time, doctors resorted to unusual procedures in an attempt to cure the afflictions of their patients. The majority of society held the belief that mentally ill people were dangerous and unpredictable. Many people liked to distance themselves from the mentally ill, leading these people to become social outcasts. One of the aspects is certainly the treatment options that were available for patients. This ranged from induced convulsions to lobotomies.
People who suffer depression shoulder a stigma that is slow to change, too slow. Depression is a mood disorder that causes a persistent feeling of sadness, tiredness, trouble focusing or concentrating, unhappiness, anxiety, isolation, sleep issues, and yes anger. The anger comes from enduring all that goes along with the problem. The most important discussion is that of depression and mental issues in our young people. Yet, it touches all ages. An age that is forgotten is the elderly.
I would like to address the forgotten group, the elderly. Clinical depression in the elderly is common as well. Late-life depression affects about 6 million elderly Americans, but only 10% receive treatment for depression.
The most likely reason is that the elderly often display symptoms of depression differently. Depression affects older people differently than younger people. In the elderly, depression often occurs with other medical illnesses and disabilities and lasts longer. Depression in the elderly is associated with an increased risk of cardiac diseases and an increased risk of death from illness. At the same time, depression reduces an elderly person’s ability to rehabilitate. Physical conditions like stroke, hypertension, atrial fibrillation, diabetes, cancer, dementia, and chronic pain further increase the risk of depression. Anxiety in older adults also have important risk factors: Chronic medical conditions (especially chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD], cardiovascular disease including arrhythmias and angina, thyroid disease, and diabetes), overall feelings of poor health, sleep disturbance, stressful life events, negative or difficult events in childhood, excessive worry or preoccupation with physical health symptoms.
Our focus cannot be on one group alone, we must try to take into consideration all age groups.
We must try to understand the children, the young students, parents and yes the grandparents. The youth is the future of this world, a group of talented special individuals that will build our future. The parents who must guide and make a path for the youth to follow. The elderly built the foundation that our world exists upon; if not for them, there might be a very different world for us to live in. So, lest we forget them, they deserve our respect, they deserve to be happy, even if for only a short time that they have left.