By Susan Shields, PA-C

According to World Health Organization (WHO) reports, approximately 15 percent of adults aged 60 and older suffer from a mental disorder.  The most common mental and neurological disorders in this age group are dementia and depression.  Mental health problems are under-identified by health-care professionals and older people themselves, and the stigma surrounding these conditions makes people reluctant to seek help.  While depression is not a normal part of the aging process, there is a strong likelihood of it occurring when other physical health conditions are present.

Clinical depression is not a normal response.  It is a serious medical illness and should be treated at any age.  Signs of depression can include change in eating habits, fatigue, loss of interest in activities, change in sleeping habits and sadness.  Fortunately, depression is a very treatable illness. More than 80 percent of all people with depression can be successfully treated with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both.