Did you know that depression affects more than 16 million adults in the United States? It can affect people of all ages, races, genders, and socioeconomic backgrounds, with many of its patients suffering in silence. Many patients with clinical depression are not getting the care they need, but this may change as depression becomes more widely recognized as a valid medical concern rather than a matter of will. In the near future, there may even be a standard blood test to screen for molecules distinctive to those with clinical depression, allowing patients to get help before they ever suffer through a major depressive episode. Currently, however, depression screening is limited to an assessment of symptoms and habits that characterize this common mental illness.
The symptoms of depression don’t look the same on everyone, so you may need to spend significant time discussing your sleep patterns, eating habits, physical activity, and energy levels with your doctor. Depression can cause a person to slow down and feel very lethargic, or it can lead to a state of agitation and anxiety.
In addition to symptoms, your doctor will want to know about feelings of hopelessness, guilt, low self-esteem, or self-deprecation. Typically, physicians will use a questionnaire asking about these feelings along with thoughts of self-harm or suicide, as it may be easier to put these thoughts on paper than discuss them out loud.
Discussion of health history
Finally, your doctor will look at any family history of mental illness along with your own health history. Certain conditions or past behaviors might trigger depression later in life, so it’s important to remain open and honest as you explore your medical history with your physician.
RISE Behavioral Health at Southern Hills Hospital is geared toward providing intensive outpatient care for patients 55 and older struggling with conditions like depression or anxiety disorders. If you or a loved one has been struggling with late-in-life depression, connect with us on our website or call (702) 880-2100. Not only do we provide care for local residents of Las Vegas, but we can serve as a resource for communities in Arizona, Southern California, and Utah.