Mental Health & Depression in the Medicare Patient

Learn about the services & benefits offered to you by Medicare to treat your mental health.

Mental health and depression disorders don’t have to go untreated in the elderly; there are many ways to start healing, and several services and programs that Medicare can cover and assist you with so you can begin living a better life.

It is entirely normal to feel down or blue once in a while due to life’s circumstances or illnesses. What is a bit concerning is when those feelings last weeks or even months. When this feeling of sadness is continuous and ongoing, it can be depression, which is a mood disorder that affects how you feel, act, think, and deal with life’s situations. Unfortunately, depression is a topic that is far too often swept under the rug and not spoken about due to the taboo associated with it, even within the elderly population. This is why it is incredibly important to share this information with your loved ones and get the conversation in motion. 

According to the CDC, older adults are at increased risk of mental health issues, with 80% having a chronic health condition and 50% having two or more, making depression very common. Misdiagnosis, undertreatment, and underrepresentation, in addition to the mental and physical effects of the pandemic, are also some of the possible factors that could cause older adults to struggle with mental health issues. What’s more, depression amongst the elderly can also be caused by loneliness due to living alone. However, fear not as depression is a treatable medical condition and doesn’t have to affect your quality of life.

Depression in older adults

Taking care of your mental health is just as important as taking care of your physical health. Even though many people might believe that depression is untreatable, this is not the case. Understanding the condition and reaching out for help is extremely important and can help you live better, no matter your age. 

There are different types of depression such as:

 Some of the risk factors of depression include:

  • Medical conditions
  • Lack of sleep
  • Stress
  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Addictions

 Possible signs of depression include:

  • Consistent fatigue, sadness, and feelings of hopelessness.
  • Loss of interests
  • Difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and difficulty making decisions.
  • Thoughts of ending your life or fixation with death.

Depression can happen to anyone at any time, and if left untreated, it can lead to severe depression and even suicidal thoughts. Depression can also look different depending on a person’s culture and gender, and be experienced in different ways.

Here are some things you can do to lessen depression:

  • Physical activity, such as walks and yoga can boost your mood.
  • Talk about your depression with your doctor, a therapist, or a loved one.
  • Stay in touch with your loved ones.
  • Seek medical treatment and stick with the prescribed plan.
  • Ask a loved one for help with attending your medical appointments.
  • Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor.

Seek support

Medicare offers a great approach to your mental health healing journey, including several services and programs that may be provided in outpatient and inpatient settings. Depending on your plan, Medicare may cover many aspects of your care with a deductible and coinsurance.

 Some of the resources covered by Medicare are:

  • Psychiatrists or other doctors and specialists that specialize in mental health and depression
  • Clinical psychologists
  • Clinical social workers
  • Clinical nurse specialists, nurse practitioners, and physician assistants
  • Lab tests ordered by your doctor
  • Mental health services like doctor visits
  • Yearly screenings
  • Certain prescription drugs
  • Partial hospitalization

For more information about Medicare and your Mental Health Benefits, please click here. Depression can be a big scary word for many people, but you don’t have to go through it alone. Understand that feeling depressed or sad is nothing to be ashamed of, and that help is out there. Asking for help does not make you weak but will be handled with the deepest care and empathy. Start living a better life today.

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*This blog post was written by Ana Rivera, Clinical Services Associate Director at Abarca Health.

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