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Dr. M Kaleem Arshad, MD addresses links between depression and suicide in the elderly

Industry: Healthcare

Elder suicide is sadly on the rise leading to an increased requirement for intervention and preventative measures.

Harvey, LA (PRUnderground) September 27th, 2018

While there are countless reasons why an individual may choose to take their own life, the majority of those who commit suicide, estimated at close to 90%, are believed to have been suffering from substance abuse or an underlying mental illness, such as depression.

That’s according to M Kaleem Arshad, MD, of New Orleans. “This is often due,” he adds, “to the way in which depression alters an individual’s mental health, prompting feelings of hopelessness and helplessness.”

The risks are pervasive throughout the U.S. according to Dr. kaleem Arshad, and no single group is at higher risk than the elderly. The National Institute of Mental Health currently estimates that at least 6 million individuals aged 65 and older exhibit symptoms of depression which are severe enough to require treatment.

“It’s worth noting that due to the stigma surrounding mental illness which is common among this generation, diagnosing depression in elderly patients can be more complex, for example, in comparison with a younger cohort,” reveals the medical professional.

Muhammad kaleem Arshad goes on to explain that many elderly persons feel that conditions such as depression are indicative of weak personality traits, as opposed to physically based. “As a result, older patients suffering from depression may be hesitant to talk about their symptoms or perhaps even try to ignore them completely,” he adds.

“Perhaps the most pertinent question,” says Dr. Arshad, “is ‘depression or dementia?'”

While depression can be common among the elderly, it can be difficult for healthcare professionals to accurately diagnose mental illness in older patients, according to Dr. Arshad, as dementia may exhibit many of the same symptoms.

“For example,” says the doctor, “some symptoms common to both depression and dementia include apathy, social withdrawal, isolation, loss of interest in activities or hobbies, difficulty concentrating, and impaired thinking.”

“Given the fact that more than 5 million Americans are living with dementia,” he adds, “it’s important to carefully screen patients exhibiting these symptoms to help determine proper diagnoses and timely interventions

Dr. M Kaleem Arshad has been engaged in private practice of psychiatry in New Orleans area over last 30 years with special focus on psychiatric care of elderly . He has directed inpatient geriatric facilities and  have advocated to improve the access and availability of mental health services for seniors . He is Board Certified in Geriatric Psychiatry and is Assistant Clinical Professor in Geriatric Division of Internal Medicine Department at LSU School of Medicine . He is former President of Louisiana Psychiatric Medical Association and a Distinguished Life Fellow of American Psychiatric Association.

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