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Suffering in silence

Nearly two-thirds of Americans age 65 or older who are concerned that they are suffering from depression will not seek treatment for it, according to a new national poll.

Depressed older woman on floor
A recent survey of older adults found that most don’t acknowledge depression as a treatable medical problem. (Source: Adobe Stock)

The GeneSight® Mental Health Monitor, a nationwide survey of U.S. adults over age 18, also found that about a third of seniors who think they might have depression believe that they can “snap out of it” on their own. At the same time, though, they recognize that depression has affected their relationships with others and their ability to enjoy activities as they once did.

The survey confirmed that depression remains a taboo topic among older adults. Data from Mental Health America, a community-based nonprofit dedicated to promoting mental health, show that most adults over 65 know little about depression, and most don’t believe that it is a treatable health problem.

“The ‘pull yourself up by your bootstraps’ mindset of some seniors and reluctance to talk about mental health are hindering them from getting the help they need – especially now when the pandemic is having an enormous impact on the mental health of older Americans,” said Dr. Mark Pollack, chief medical officer of Myriad Neuroscience, which sponsored the new poll. “People will seek treatment for conditions like heart disease, high blood pressure or diabetes. Depression is no different. It is an illness that can and should be treated.”

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