Lesson 2 Mental Health

Lesson 2a: Depression

Depression is a worldwide disease that affects more than 5% of adults over 60 years of age.

Symptoms appear almost every day for at least 2 weeks and include:

  • the feeling of sadness;
  • irritability;
  • the loss of pleasure or interest in activities;
  • poor concentration;
  • feelings of guilt or low self-esteem;
  • desperation for the future;
  • thoughts about death or suicide;
  • disturbed sleep;
  • changes in appetite or weight and
  • feeling tired or low energy.

Depending on the symptoms and their severity, as well as the impact they have on a person, a depressive episode can be categorized as mild, moderate or severe.

  • People who have gone through difficulties at some point in their lives (such as unemployment, mourning, traumatic events).
  • Cardiovascular disease can lead to depression and vice versa..
  • Prevention programs in the community reduce depression.
  • Exercise programs for the elderly can also be effective in preventing depression.
  • Behavioral therapy
  • Cognitive behavioral therapy and
  • Interpersonal psychotherapy
  • Antidepressants

You can find more information in Module 5!

Lesson 2b: Dementia

Dementia is not a specific disease. It is a syndrome that progressively leads to a decline in cognitive function. It’s an overall term that describes a group of symptoms.

It develops differently in each individual depending on the already underlying diseases as well as the existing cognitive function of the individual.

  • Age
  • Depression
  • Social isolation
  • Low educational level
  • Cognitive inactivity and
  • Air pollution

There is also dementia at a young age (with symptoms before the age of 65) up to 9% of cases.

  • Physical activity
  • Abstinence from smoking
  • Abstinence from excessive alcohol consumption
  • Balanced diet
  • Constant body weight
  • Proper blood pressure
  • Proper cholesterol and
  • Proper blood sugar levels (avoiding diabetes)

Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, a general term for memory loss and other cognitive abilities serious enough to interfere with daily life.

  • There is no cure for Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Research is being done on treatments.
  • Care / Empowerment (for both the elderly and carers) such as: early diagnosis for better management, optimization of physical health, knowledge, treatment of underlying diseases, provision of information to carers.
  • Dementia does affect mental health but it is not a mental illness.
  • Rather, it’s a disorder of the brain that can cause memory loss and communication difficulties.
  • People diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease may display similar traits to those with mental illness.
  • However, Alzheimer’s disease is more accurately defined as a brain disease, specifically, a progressive neurodegenerative condition