As we age, our brain’s capacity (in terms of general functioning) reduces, while certain neurotransmitters (which influence mood state) can become perturbed. Three reasons for these changes are worth mentioning in relation to depression.
- Some elderly people who are developing a dementia may at some stage (often early on) develop a severe depression for the first time. The depression is commonly of a psychotic or melancholic type and reflects disruption of circuits linking certain basal ganglia and frontal regions of the brain.
- Sometimes these changes merely reflect an aging process, particularly in people who are vulnerable to this kind of ‘wear and tear’.
- In others, however, high blood pressure or mini-strokes (often unnoticed by the individual and their family) may contribute. Good blood pressure control can reduce the chance of depression in some people with this problem.