Older People Urged To Look After Their Mental Health
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As we are in the winter months older people in Ireland are being encouraged to look after their mental health and to seek help and support if they are feeling depressed most of the day, most days. Leading Old Age Psychiatrist Professor Brian Lawlor and advocacy group Age Action urged older people to address the issue of their mental health at the launch of the 'Mind Yourself - Depression in Later Life' leaflet today. The leaflet, produced by Lundbeck (Ireland) Ltd, provides useful information to help people recognise the symptoms of depression in later life and how to access support services and resources.
The leaflet was developed following research amongst over 65 year olds, carried out by Behaviour and Attitudes on behalf of Lundbeck which shows that almost 60% of those surveyed believe that people in their age group would be reluctant to discuss depression with others. One quarter of respondents said they believed that depression is a state of mind and not an illness which could indicate a lack of understanding of depression, resulting in many older people with depression not being diagnosed or receiving the help they need.
91% of respondents believed that depression can have a very negative impact on a person's life with 82% believing that depression is not well understood by many people. Well over two thirds (70%) of those with depression think that there is a lot or some social stigma associated with depression. The research also revealed that those most likely to suffer from depression in this age group are older women who are widowed.
"With older people, while their physical ailments may be detected and addressed their depression can often be overlooked and undertreated," Professor Brian Lawlor, Professor of Old Age Psychiatry, St James's Hospital and Trinity College Dublin. "Factors such as social isolation, bereavement and retirement can be extremely distressing for older people and can lead to depression. I would urge people to look out for warning signs in older family members or friends. Low mood or sadness, social withdrawal, increased fatigue, loss of appetite, disturbed sleep, loss of enjoyment, feelings of hopelessness or life not worth living can all point to the presence of depression and should not be ignored."
Eamon Timmins, Age Action welcomed the research saying, "This research gives us a valuable insight into the attitudes towards depression among the over 65s. Our ethos is to empower older people so that they can enjoy their later years. We would urge them to take account of their mental health as well as their physical health. Depression is not an inevitable part of ageing and can be treated successfully."
* The research cited above is based a consolidated analysis of five years of date on data from a survey of the adult population, undertaken by Behaviour & Attitudes for Lundbeck. Fieldwork between 2005 and 2009 among a nationally representative, quota controlled sample of 892 adults aged 65+. The sample mirrors the national population structure, based on the census of population, in terms of sex, age region and area of residence, and matches industry-agreed standards in respect of social class. Interviewing was undertaken face to face in-home, and interviewers were closely supervised and monitored. Survey design, fieldwork and analysis conform to the strict quality standards dictated by Behaviour & Attitudes membership of ESOMAR (European Code) and the Market Research Society (UK).
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