Elderly depression is frequently seen as an amorphous term that may have a host of various conditions fall underneath its umbrella. Thus it is not surprising to find that professionals have chosen to break down elderly depression as basically encompassing two different albeit related disorders: bipolar disorders (which was formerly known as manic depression) and major depressive disorder which encompasses everything else.
In spite of the plethora of conditions that might fall under the latter, it is still easier to define and even diagnose. Generally speaking, elderly depression falling into this category is thought to be indicative of a state of being that may be traced back to months of depression which are not interrupted by episodes of mania.
Some psychiatric professionals have chosen to define major depressive disorder as being one that showcases a collection of three or more symptoms of being depressed over a period of time equal to or greater than 14 days. The extent to which the symptoms interfere with the day to day activities of everyday life is indicative of the treatment options that may be best serving the individual and will also define the follow up the person will require.
On the other side of the spectrum is bipolar disorder which is considered by many to be more dangerous simply because in addition to the sometimes disabling symptoms of depression it also holds the elevated risk of a patient contemplating suicide just to escape what appears to be a never ending cycle of illness and inability to feel better.
What makes this latter condition so insidious is the fact that it is characterized by frequent and sometimes amazingly quickly occurring mood changes that might persuade caregivers that the elderly patient is on the mend and thus perhaps medical intervention is not as necessary as was at first believed. In the same vein, it may even cause the patient her or himself to deceive others as well as themselves by believing or fervently hoping that the latest bout of mania is a sign that the dark cloud has finally passed. In the same vein, bipolar individuals have the blessing or curse to be free of any symptoms for extended periods of time, not necessitating treatment and even causing them to be taken off the medications that were used in the past.
Even as this is a good sign, it is important to understand that such individuals need to be especially vigilant for the end of the symptom free time to occur and if they are not very careful they may find that instead of being optimistic and perhaps somewhat of a go getter, they have fallen into a manic cycle that may eventually bottom out into a depressed episode.
There is no substitute for a physicians attention and you will be wise to heed to the advice of friends, family, or caregivers who may suggest that you visit a doctor. Best case scenario, the doctor will tell you that all is well and you will have a baseline visit should anything ever crop up in the future. Worst case scenario, you may need to consider to once again be going on medication to take care of any problem.