According to the World Health Organization, depression is one of the leading causes of disability and disease in advanced economies. Its effects are particularly insidious in the twilight years. The elderly have so much to deal with both physically and emotionally, we can’t blame them for falling prey to depression. As a way to prevail against the disease, we must recognize the intersection between diet and geriatric depression.
As we age, this relationship can best be understood through these insights:
- Depression has a variety of signs and symptoms. These tend to differ between younger and older patients. In younger patients, the symptoms generally manifest as feelings of worthlessness and guilt. Victims may also be preoccupied with thoughts of suicide or death. However, in older patients, the symptoms may be physical in nature. These patients often report prevailing bouts of sleeplessness, fatigue, and agitation.
- Depression and nutrition may act upon each other in both directions. It may cause weight loss due to a lack of interest in food. And, nutritional deficiencies can certainly worsen depression.
- Depression and diet may interact in very complex ways, making diagnosis difficult and resulting in a “failure to thrive” diagnosis in the oldest patients.
Geriatric Depression and Its Symptoms as We Age
The physical manifestations of depression, such as a loss of appetite and aches and pains without a physical basis, may have other causes, as well. Such a scenario can often delay a credible diagnosis in older patients. However, all isn’t lost: there are many tests, both psychological and physical, that can still be done to make an informed diagnosis.
The Interaction Between Nutrition and Geriatric Depression in Manhattan
Depressed individuals may lose interest in food and have poor appetites. The treatment, essentially, is to deal with the depression in order to restore the appetite. All things considered, physical exercise is key to elevating mood and combating symptoms such as fatigue and appetite loss. In addition to homeopathic and naturopathic treatments for depression, a regular exercise routine will also prove to be an asset.
Below, we reveal the nutritional imbalances that can contribute to depression:
Omega 3 fatty acids may be lacking in the diet. Since our bodies can’t manufacture these essential fats, we must acquire them through dietary sources like oily fish (salmon, sardines, fresh tuna, and trout). Of course, supplements providing these essential fats may be used, as well.
If you aren’t getting enough B-vitamins such as folic acid, B6, and B12, you may have overly high levels of homocysteine. The latter may contribute to arterial damage and blood clots. Lack of these vitamins can also reduce the efficacy of anti-depressant medications.
You can boost your serotonin levels with amino acids. Many anti-depressants focus on raising serotonin levels in the brain. However, our bodies can actually produce serotonin from the amino acid, tryptophan. As well, you can find tryptophan in protein-rich foods such as meat, fish, beans, and eggs. To combat depression, consider increasing your tryptophan levels.
All things considered, balancing blood sugar levels remains a crucial approach. Many of us realize that our blood sugar levels can affect our mood. Essentially, uneven blood sugar levels can contribute to mood swings. So, it’s imperative to consume adequate portions of carbohydrate-rich foods during meals. Carbohydrates break down into glucose, which becomes fuel for your brain.
Chromium and Vitamin D
Be sure to acquire adequate levels of chromium and vitamin D. Chromium keeps your blood-sugar levels stable and promotes the efficacy of insulin. In some cases, just providing depressed patients with chromium supplements makes a big difference. As for vitamin D, it is known as the “sunshine vitamin” for good reason. Our body produces it when we expose our skin to sunlight. That said, a lack of vitamin D may lead to depression. And, elderly patients who suffer from seasonal affective disorder may be especially vulnerable.
“Failure to Thrive” Can Complicate Nutrition
Briefly, in elderly patients, “failure to thrive” is a general state of decline caused by many factors. However, the chief symptoms comprise impaired physical function, malnutrition, depression, and cognitive impairment. Here, too, the interaction between nutrition and depression is complex. It may be difficult to tease out whether failing to thrive is due to depression or some other underlying condition.
The diagnosis of “failure to thrive” is common among patients in nursing homes and other long-term care facilities. Often, a doctor arrives at this diagnosis using an array of tests for physical and psychological health. Laboratory tests may also yield additional information in this instance. Meanwhile, a review of medications to ensure that side effects aren’t contributing to the diagnosis may also be included.
With the identification of the problem, the health care team must first address the easily treatable causes of “failure to thrive.” This generally involves boosting deficiencies in diet and promoting exercise as a reliable appetite stimulant. You can provide enough dietary supplementation to ensure adequate protein and nutrient intake. When that is addressed, the patient can partake of favorite foods without fear of missing out on valuable nutrition.
David York Supports New Research for Geriatric Depression in Manhattan
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