Depression Across the Lifespan: Depression⁠—and its Treatments⁠—are Different for Each Life Stage

Depression Across the Lifespan: Depression⁠—and its Treatments⁠—are Different for Each Life Stage

Susan K. Gurley, Executive Director

Susan K. Gurley, Executive Dirctor

Susan Gurley is the Executive Director of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), a non-profit international mental health association. She is a lawyer and advocate with 25 years of leadership experience working in the mental health and access to justice fields, international development and legal reform, and higher education administration.

Prior to joining ADAA, Ms. Gurley held senior-level positions in several U.S. government agencies, such as the United States Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Ms. Gurley served as both the Assistant Dean for International and Graduate Programs, at the Georgetown University School of Law and as an Adjunct Faculty Member. While at Georgetown she created the International Human Rights and National Security Law Certificate Programs. Ms. Gurley also worked as the Deputy Executive Director of Equal Justice Works, and as the Director of Legal Reform at the East West Management Institute (EWMI), where she managed several overseas offices, created  EWMI’s first land reform program, and expanded programming to Asia. She also ran the Association of Corporate Business Travel Executives, where she opened the association’s first office in Latin America and testified before Congress on privacy issues. 

Ms. Gurley has extensive non-profit Board experience. She has served on the Boards of Film Aid International, on the Board of the Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County, and currently serves on the Executive Committee of the International Executive Service Corps (IESC). She also serves on the Advisory Committee for Her Wealth, an organization promoting financial literacy for women. 

Over the past five years, she has served as a technical expert volunteer on capacity building projects in Cambodia, Philippines, and Tanzania. For her volunteer work, she has been awarded the Frank Pace award by IESC as well as the 2020 Innovator of the Year award by USAID’s Farmer- to- Farmer program. 

Ms. Gurley is a Phi Beta Kappa and received her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. She is a member of the Virginia Bar. Ms. Gurley has worked in 30+ countries and speaks French, German, and Hungarian. 

Email Susan.

Depression Across the Lifespan: Depression⁠—and its Treatments⁠—are Different for Each Life Stage

Share
No
Depression - Fall Forum - Depression Across the Lifespan

Depression weighs heavily 

Someone suffering from depression may feel like they walk through life constantly carrying a backpack full of bricks. Others might feel so depressed that they endlessly peruse the internet with no aim, their eyes fixed onto rapidly scrolling screens.  The concept of “depression across the lifespan” means that depression affects people differently depending on their life stage. The Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA) is hosting a professional continuing education Fall Forum on depression across the lifespan on October 21, 2021.  

Depression varies by age 

The signs of depression can look different for everyone and may vary, especially depending on a person’s age group.

In addition to feeling sad or hopeless, children may exhibit tell-tale signs such as problems at school, avoiding social activities, a loss of interest in fun activities, changes in diet or weight, anxiety, and difficulties with family members. These characteristics are unique to depression in children, while teenagers and adults show different signs. 

In teenagers, signs of depression may include those that younger children exhibit. However, uniquely teenage symptoms include mood changes that last longer than a few weeks, problems with friends, unusual levels of irritability and lashing out, feelings of worthlessness, anger and extreme sensitivity, sleeping or eating too much, and self-harm such as cutting and alcohol or drug abuse. 

In young adults (age 19-29), signs of depression often relate to the triggers that drive depression. Major life transitions, a lack of support in new environments, relationship issues, and work problems are issues that young adults often face that can trigger the development of depression. The percentage of adults who experienced any symptoms of depression was highest among young adults. 

In midlife adults (age 30-69), in addition to the typical signs of depression such as “the presence of feelings of sadness, emptiness, or irritability, accompanied by bodily and cognitive changes lasting at least two weeks,” characteristic signs unique to this age group might include alcohol abuse, anger, and violent behavior. 

In older adults (70+), unique symptoms among this age group include difficulty sleeping, suicide attempts, and physical aches and pains. As social connections are necessary for humans to thrive, social isolation and death of loved ones are significant causes of depression among older adults. 

Depression—and stigma—across diverse communities

People with depression face stigma in the form of negative stereotypes, social disapproval, discrimination, shame, etc., contributing to an environment of barriers in mental health services. One of the first barriers that people facing mental health conditions struggle with is the stigma of seeking out resources and treatment. Stigma also presents differently among different cultural communities. Seeking mental health care is stigmatized within many Black communities. Only one in three Black Americans who need mental health care receive it. Barriers remain regarding access to and quality of care that include lack of providers from diverse racial/ethnic backgrounds and lack of culturally competent providers. Among U.S. immigrant communities and other groups, barriers related to language, culture, and immigration status continue to be barriers to treatment. ADAA member Karen G. Martínez, MD, MSc explains that “language, idioms of distress and health literacy might be involved, but also other socio economic factors such as having health insurance or immigration status create barriers to mental health treatments.”

The de-stigmatization of depression and of seeking help is critical. ADAA believes that breaking down barriers, education, and conversations around depression can help reduce stigma and help with the crises of depression across the lifespan.

Seeking and receiving help is vital and can be very accessible

The best starting point for receiving help is to speak to a professional to get a proper diagnosis. Speaking to a primary care physician (PCP) or other trusted health care provider is important to diagnose a mental health condition. Otherwise, mental illnesses can go undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. “Talk therapy,” where a patient speaks with a therapist, can benefit anyone at any age: 80% to 90% of people eventually respond well to treatment. 

There are ways to find help at low or no-cost options: 

Many therapists offer virtual counseling, or “Telemental Health.” Beyond telemental health, many high-tech advancements are being developed that we can look forward to exploring in the future. For example, Apple is working with UCLA on iPhone features to detect depression and cognitive decline in users’ facial expressions, which could identify mental-health concerns and treatments.  

Depression has a long shadow. Depression can impact anyone at any age. It looks different at different ages. Children may present problems at school, while older adults may feel physically sick from social isolation. Depression presents with different symptoms and can be triggered by different events unique to one’s life stage. It is vital to seek help at any stage, regardless of the stigma tied to one’s cultural group or any financial barriers that may be in place. Reliable resources are available for everyone. 

Susan K. Gurley, Executive Director

Susan K. Gurley, Executive Dirctor

Susan Gurley is the Executive Director of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), a non-profit international mental health association. She is a lawyer and advocate with 25 years of leadership experience working in the mental health and access to justice fields, international development and legal reform, and higher education administration.

Prior to joining ADAA, Ms. Gurley held senior-level positions in several U.S. government agencies, such as the United States Agency for International Development, the U.S. Department of Commerce, and at the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

Ms. Gurley served as both the Assistant Dean for International and Graduate Programs, at the Georgetown University School of Law and as an Adjunct Faculty Member. While at Georgetown she created the International Human Rights and National Security Law Certificate Programs. Ms. Gurley also worked as the Deputy Executive Director of Equal Justice Works, and as the Director of Legal Reform at the East West Management Institute (EWMI), where she managed several overseas offices, created  EWMI’s first land reform program, and expanded programming to Asia. She also ran the Association of Corporate Business Travel Executives, where she opened the association’s first office in Latin America and testified before Congress on privacy issues. 

Ms. Gurley has extensive non-profit Board experience. She has served on the Boards of Film Aid International, on the Board of the Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County, and currently serves on the Executive Committee of the International Executive Service Corps (IESC). She also serves on the Advisory Committee for Her Wealth, an organization promoting financial literacy for women. 

Over the past five years, she has served as a technical expert volunteer on capacity building projects in Cambodia, Philippines, and Tanzania. For her volunteer work, she has been awarded the Frank Pace award by IESC as well as the 2020 Innovator of the Year award by USAID’s Farmer- to- Farmer program. 

Ms. Gurley is a Phi Beta Kappa and received her law degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. She is a member of the Virginia Bar. Ms. Gurley has worked in 30+ countries and speaks French, German, and Hungarian. 

Email Susan.

Use of Website Blog Commenting

Use of Website Blog Commenting

ADAA provides this Website blogs for the benefit of its members and the public. The content, view and opinions published in Blogs written by our personnel or contributors – or from links or posts on the Website from other sources - belong solely to their respective authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of ADAA, its members, management or employees. Any comments or opinions expressed are those of their respective contributors only. Please remember that the open and real-time nature of the comments posted to these venues makes it is impossible for ADAA to confirm the validity of any content posted, and though we reserve the right to review and edit or delete any such comment, we do not guarantee that we will monitor or review it. As such, we are not responsible for any messages posted or the consequences of following any advice offered within such posts. If you find any posts in these posts/comments to be offensive, inaccurate or objectionable, please contact us via email at [email protected] and reference the relevant content. If we determine that removal of a post or posts is necessary, we will make reasonable efforts to do so in a timely manner.

ADAA expressly disclaims responsibility for and liabilities resulting from, any information or communications from and between users of ADAA’s blog post commenting features. Users acknowledge and agree that they may be individually liable for anything they communicate using ADAA’s blogs, including but not limited to defamatory, discriminatory, false or unauthorized information. Users are cautioned that they are responsible for complying with the requirements of applicable copyright and trademark laws and regulations. By submitting a response, comment or content, you agree that such submission is non-confidential for all purposes. Any submission to this Website will be deemed and remain the property of ADAA.

The ADAA blogs are forums for individuals to share their opinions, experiences and thoughts related to mental illness. ADAA wants to ensure the integrity of this service and therefore, use of this service is limited to participants who agree to adhere to the following guidelines:

1. Refrain from transmitting any message, information, data, or text that is unlawful, threatening, abusive, harassing, defamatory, vulgar, obscene, that may be invasive of another 's privacy, hateful, or bashing communications - especially those aimed at gender, race, color, sexual orientation, national origin, religious views or disability.

Please note that there is a review process whereby all comments posted to blog posts and webinars are reviewed by ADAA staff to determine appropriateness before comments are posted. ADAA reserves the right to remove or edit a post containing offensive material as defined by ADAA.

ADAA reserves the right to remove or edit posts that contain explicit, obscene, offensive, or vulgar language. Similarly, posts that contain any graphic files will be removed immediately upon notice.

2. Refrain from posting or transmitting any unsolicited, promotional materials, "junk mail," "spam," "chain mail," "pyramid schemes" or any other form of solicitation. ADAA reserves the right to delete these posts immediately upon notice.

3. ADAA invites and encourages a healthy exchange of opinions. If you disagree with a participant 's post or opinion and wish to challenge it, do so with respect. The real objective of the ADAA blog post commenting function is to promote discussion and understanding, not to convince others that your opinion is "right." Name calling, insults, and personal attacks are not appropriate and will not be tolerated. ADAA will remove these posts immediately upon notice.

4. ADAA promotes privacy and encourages participants to keep personal information such as address and telephone number from being posted. Similarly, do not ask for personal information from other participants. Any comments that ask for telephone, address, e-mail, surveys and research studies will not be approved for posting.

5. Participants should be aware that the opinions, beliefs and statements on blog posts do not necessarily represent the opinions and beliefs of ADAA. Participants also agree that ADAA is not to be held liable for any loss or injury caused, in whole or in part, by sponsorship of blog post commenting. Participants also agree that ADAA reserves the right to report any suspicions of harm to self or others as evidenced by participant posts.

RESOURCES AND NEWS
Evidence-based Tips & Strategies from our Member Experts
RELATED ARTICLES
Block reference
TAKING ACTION
After viewing my art and story, I want others to understand that we are not alone in this and…

Advertisement