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  • Depression in Later Life: A Bookish Conversation with Dr. Deborah Serani
Depression in Later Life: A Bookish Conversation with Dr. Deborah Serani
Contributor

Dr. Deborah Serani is a psychologist in practice over 25 years, an associate adjunct professor at Adelphi University and a TEDx speaker on the subject of depression. She is also a go-to expert on psychological issues. Dr. Serani is the author of the award-winning books, Living with Depression, Depression and Your Child: A Guide for Parents and Caregivers and Depression in Later Life: An Essential Guide published by Rowman & Littlefield.

Thanks for this interview, Dr. Serani. Can you tell us what your latest book, Depression in Later Life: An Essential Guide, is about?

Dr. Serani: Depression can occur at any age, but depression in later  life has symptoms that are different than depression in younger ages. As we get older, depression can be caused by vascular issues, life stressors, a result of medications we take and physical decline. Many older adults don't recognize they're depressed, instead reporting symptoms of feeling tired, irritable and confused. This is why it's vital to understand the symptoms of geriatric depression and how to get help.

Your books are aimed at helping people of all ages with depression. Why did you choose that subject to write about?

Dr. Serani: I always wanted to cover depression through the life cycle, so this is the last in a series of three books. The first two books covered depression in children and depression in adults. This one covers geriatric depression. I'm proud to say all my books on depression have won Book of the Year Awards. I'm thrilled that they've been recognized as important literary works in the field of self-help.

The geriatric population which is who you aimed at with your latest book, is supposed to be the fastest growing population in the world what with modern advances in the field of medicine. What other things do you believe attribute to people living longer?

Dr. Serani: We've really learned how to live well, with science encouraging us to focus on nutrition, exercise, drinking plenty of water and subtracting unhealthy habits like smoking, drinking and drug use. So lifestyle changes have added years to the life span. Technological advances in medical science  has helped refine surgery, so there's less time recovering or risk of infection. And we've found ways to conquer diseases with medications and treatments that in years past, would place many at risk for early death (high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, cancer, etc). All these aspects help us live longer.

With the elder population increasing, what do you believe are the challenges they face which might lead to depression?

Dr. Serani: Social isolation, physical decline, cognitive difficulties, loss of purpose, feeling like a burden to others, and a sense of helplessness are risk factors for geriatric depression. Seniors need to be proactive to create a healthy lifestyle where they can find meaning and support.

 Here you go.....

If you could say something to the elder generation about depression, what would be one of the points you would like to make so that they would be willing to receive help?

Dr. Serani: Depression is not part of the aging process. In truth, depression at any age is NOT considered a normal part of the life cycle. Depression is a serious, but treatable illness. Upwards of 80% of seniors who get help for depression, find recovery and live well. So, don't let the cloud of depression shadow your golden years.

How can family play a part in that?

Dr. Serani: Family and friends can help seniors move into their golden years with good mental and physical health by making them part of their world. This means keeping your older loved ones involved in your life. Give them purpose, make them feel loved and valued. Learn about the kinds of health issues seniors face and make sure you understand the symptoms of depression so you can catch them early if they being.

Thank you again, Dr. Serani. Will you be writing more books on the subject of depression?

Dr. Serani: I have a children's picture book coming out in 2018 on how to cope when you're sad. It's a sweet story about the kinds of ways children experience depression and how to use science based techniques to heal it.

 

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