Depression - let's talk

Depression and anxiety in older people is not a normal part of ageing. Seniors are often more hesitant to share their experiences of depression. This means it often goes undetected and untreated. You may be experiencing depression or know someone who is.

Depression is more than feeling a bit down. Depression can be triggered by social isolation, having a serious illness, or experiencing a traumatic life change such as the loss of a loved one. It’s a medical condition that’s treatable and it needs to be talked about.

John Kirwan

John Kirwan is not afraid of having that conversation. Here’s his advice:

“Don’t try to cope with depression on your own. What will help is to share how you’re feeling with someone you trust. They can provide emotional support but may also give you advice and practical support – like getting the things you need or helping around the house."

“Depression is like rugby. You've got to have a plan and a way through. It’s about getting equipped with “tools of the trade” to minimise the impacts of stress. Those tools are talking about your problems, doing enjoyable things, getting counselling and using online resources."

“If you suffer from anxiety or depression don’t soldier on - reach out and tell others. It’s the first step on your wellness journey.”

Signs of depression in older people

  • Sadness and anxiety that lasts for weeks at a time
  • Tiredness and decreased energy
  • Lots of vague physical symptoms - aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or an upset stomach
  • Loss of interest in activities or hobbies
  • Withdrawing from friends and whānau
  • Weight and appetite loss.
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering details and making decisions

Where to get help :

If you’re concerned about a loved one being depressed, offer to go with them to see a GP.

Age Concern run accredited visiting service where volunteers spend time with an older person each week.

Your local Citizen’s Advice Bureau

If you or someone you care about is in crisis, please seek help immediately.

Depression helpline: 0800 111 757 (available 24/7)