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Battling depression among the elderly becoming more common


KALAMAZOO (WKZO) --Lets face it, growing old isn’t for wimps. It’s tough and more are seeking help and therapy as they age to battle depression.

And while the elderly are more likely than most groups to see having emotional problems or some other mental illness as a stigma, attitudes are improving as more Baby Boomers are reaching retirement age.

Dr. Janet Hahn, coordinator of the WMU Center for Gerontology, says that’s partly because they want to enjoy their remaining years and partly because Medicare supports mental health services.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness says over 6.5 million people over age 65 suffer from depression, and for obvious reasons, the loss of spouses and relatives, failing, health, isolation and poverty and their suicide rate is double that of any other demographic.

Hahn says mental health care and the medications for treating common disorders have improved considerably since the formative years of many seniors. They can often be treated with a simple doctor’s visit.