The Mayo Clinic describes Major Depressive Disorder as the persistent feeling of sadness and loss of interest. This mood disorder affects how you physically feel, think, and behave. People with untreated Major Depressive Disorder often experience a disruption in their ability to do the simplest of every day tasks needed to maintain a healthy life. When this disorder goes untreated for a long period of time, it becomes particularly dangerous for seniors. Below are some health risk factors seniors with untreated Major Depressive Disorder face.
1. Severe Dehydration: Due to not eating or drinking properly. This issue is especially dangerous for seniors because dehydration can negatively affect the function of vital organs such as the kidneys. Often times a senior’s organs are already working less efficiently than someone younger, so the damage severe dehydration causes to organs can be much more serious in seniors.
2. Not Taking Needed Medications: If someone is not eating or drinking well, then they most likely are not taking their needed medications. This can lead to a multitude of physical issues dependent on what medications are being taken and their purposes. For example, if someone stops taking their blood pressure medication due to symptoms of their illness, they then put themselves at more risk of having a stroke. Seniors are often on medications to help manage life-threatening chronic conditions, thus putting their life at risk when stopping the needed medications.
3. Weakness: Weakness can be caused by many issues that are secondary to symptoms of Major Depressive Disorder. Not eating or drinking can cause you to become weak, lying in bed and not using muscles can cause increased weakness, and not taking needed medications can also add to this issue. Weakness puts a senior at a higher risk for falling. Falling in seniors can be serious and cause broken bones or debilitating head injuries. The ability to recover from these injuries lesson as we age.
If you feel that the senior in your life is experiencing symptoms from Major Depressive Order you should seek medical and emotional treatment for them. Asking for a referral to a geriatric psychiatrist is a great first step in keeping your loved well both mentally and physically.
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