The symptoms of depression are as follows, sleep problems, fluctuations in appetite, a feeling of being hopeless and worthless, negative thoughts that you can't seem to stop, irritability, rage, thoughts of suicide, also known as "suicidal ideation," and, in the most severe instances, specific plans for committing suicide.

If your senior loved one reports (or seems to be) experiencing any combination of these symptoms, it may be time to get a mental health evaluation. (If suicidal thoughts/plans are among the symptoms your loved one is experiencing, you should know that the situation is urgent, and that you must act immediately to help.)

Even if your loved one does not have a history of depression, he or she may develop depression later in life for a variety of reasons, some of which are related to age, such as the loss of a spouse, the loss of siblings, the loss of dear friends, etc.

For some seniors, retirement is a dream come true. For others, it can lead to depression. For instance, some seniors find that they actually don't feel comfortable with having a lot of free time on their hands. They preferred having a more regular schedule. They may also feel as though they have lost a key part of their identity - the career portion of their identity.

The fear of mortality can also be a contributing factor in depression among seniors. No one loves to think about their own death, but for seniors, it is a much more pressing and immediate concern that can cause them to feel both anxiety and depression.

It is never too late in life to have a thorough mental health evaluation by a trained, licensed mental health professional. If you are concerned about the current mental and emotional state of your senior loved one, you will want to talk to them about the importance of getting an evaluation (as well as mental health treatment, if necessary.)

Treatment for depression typically includes talk therapy or medication (such as SSRI medications like Zoloft, Prozac, Paxil, etc.) For most people, including seniors, a combination of these two treatments (talk therapy in conjunction with medication) seems to work the best.