Depression affects people of all ages. It is common to experience stressors and unpleasant life events that make us feel blue or sad. Everyone from adolescents to senior citizens experience the causes and effects of depression in different ways.
As many as 30% of older adults experience major depressive disorder. This number is likely higher as many older adults aren’t comfortable talking about mental health issues. However, help is available and newer treatments are showing exceptional promise.
If you or someone you love is experiencing depression, keep reading. We’ll investigate the symptoms of depression and learn about the effects of TMS therapy on depression. We’ll also cover if Medicare covers the cost.
Symptoms of Depression
Mental health experts have compiled a list of symptoms that can show depression. In general, a person must meet five or more of the following criteria before diagnosis.
- Feeling sad or hopeless.
- Lack of energy.
- Anxiety and restlessness.
- Trouble sleeping.
- Difficulty with focus and concentration.
- Frequent thoughts of death or suicide.
- Lack of interest in favorite activities.
- Decreased appetite or overeating.
- Unusual displays of anger or frustration.
- Physical pain without a definitive cause.
- Slower physical movements.
- Feeling tired and sluggish.
These symptoms can cause disruptions in a person’s home, school, and work lives. At this point, a physician may recommend antidepressant medication.
Diagnosing Depression in Older Adults
Some healthcare providers see depression as a natural part of the aging process, but it is not. Our bodies slow down. Our thinking may not be as sharp as it once was. Aches and pains seem common. Physicians should never dismiss these symptoms as normal. Diagnosing depression in seniors requires physicians to use a different set of criteria.
When working with older adults who may have depression, the above symptoms apply. Healthcare specialists also have additional symptoms they can apply to their senior patients.
- Memory loss and significant changes in personality and behavior.
- Suicidal ideations, especially in senior men.
- Little desire to leave the house or take part in activities.
- Loss of interest in sex.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Decreased appetite.
- New or unusual feelings of fatigue.
Sometimes these symptoms can have a physical cause. This is why it’s important that an older adult’s healthcare team order bloodwork and other tests to rule out physical causes. Some of these symptoms could have a relation to dementia, Parkinson’s disease, or other physical illnesses.
What Causes Depression in Older Adults?
Older adults experience life and its trials in a different way than younger people do. Some of these challenges can bring on depressive episodes or cause persistent depressive disorder. These are a few stressors that affect older adults.
- The challenges of caregiving for a spouse or partner.
- A major health event like a stroke or heart attack.
- Retirement and the loss of satisfaction from work.
- Decreased mobility.
- Lack of exercise.
- Loneliness and living far away from family and friends.
- The loss of independence, such as the ability to drive.
- Addiction to alcohol or other substances.
Many studies suggest that depression in older adults is often misdiagnosed. It’s also not treated in the same way as it is in younger people. Older people also have a higher risk of death from causes related to depression.
Treating Depression in Older Adults
When it comes to their elderly patients, physicians should treat depression early. Failure to do so leaves these patients in a vulnerable position. It’s also important that physicians know about all of the patient’s current medications.
Some medications can cause or worsen symptoms of depression.
Antidepressants are often the first course of action. Some studies show that fewer older patients received antidepressantscompared to their younger counterparts.
Psychotherapy is also recommended for older adults with depression or other mental health issues. But many of these patients are resistant to talk therapy, likely due to their generation’s stigma surrounding mental health issues.
TMS Therapy for Depression in Older Adults
In the last several years, alternative treatment for depression has become more popular. Many psychiatrists and other mental health professionals are embracing these treatments as well.
One of the most promising of these is TMS therapy.
What is TMS Therapy?
TMS therapy is a non-invasive therapy that uses magnets to send pulses to the parts of the brain affected by depression. These magnetic pulses target the prefrontal cortex, which is the part of the brain helps regulate mood.
When the prefrontal cortex receives these magnetic pulses, stimulation of the neurons occur. Since these neurons have been underperforming due to depression, the increased activity recharges your brain and helps relieve the symptoms of depression.
TMS therapy does not need sedation and has very few side effects. Some people report mild headaches after a TMS treatment, but most leave a treatment session feeling refreshed.
Does Medicare Cover TMS Therapy?
In a world of increasing healthcare prices, many people forego treatment if their private insurance or Medicare won’t cover the cost. The good news is that Medicare does cover TMS therapy.
However, you must meet certain criteria. To qualify under Medicare’s rules, a TMS therapy candidate must have a diagnosis of severe major depressive disorder. The patient must also have tried one or more antidepressants without symptom relief.
Having worked with a psychotherapist or counselor with no relief is also a requirement for having your TMS therapy covered by Medicare.
Some people with a lengthy history of severe depression can sometimes bypass the other requirements and begin receiving their treatment right away. Talk to your doctor and your TMS therapy provider about submitting the necessary documentation to Medicare.
Take Back Your Life With TMS Therapy
Depression is so much more than feeling blue. It’s a mental health disorder that impacts every aspect of our lives.
TMS therapy has the possibility to achieve the results you’ve been hoping for. If you’ve tried medication and talk therapy and are looking for another option, contact us today. Our Oasis TMS clinics in Kentucky can help determine if you qualify and work with Medicare on your behalf.
Don’t wait. Call Oasis TMS to start feeling like yourself again today.