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Psychologist says more seniors are depressed due to the pandemic

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Posted at 5:12 PM, May 13, 2020
and last updated 2020-05-13 20:03:08-04

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — Older Americans are feeling more depressed as a result of the Coronavirus pandemic.

While many seniors self-isolate to protect themselves from COVID-19, some are feeling more lonely.

Dr. Anne Settle, a psychiatrist who says she's been calling elderly patients who don't have the ability to video chat.

“We’re seeing an increase in chronic pain which also leads to depression and then another factor that complicates that is that often we’re using telehealth now to intervene, and because they have had less experience with technology, they’re not getting the treatment and services that they need," Dr. Settle said.

“A simple phone call of reaching out or going the extra mile for someone is really important right now, I’ve had phone calls where I’m just calling to check in on someone and recognize that they’re really not doing well at all,” Settle added. “So first and foremost, oftentimes people don’t recognize that their insurance companies might actually have some resources for them.”

Seniors can call the number on their insurance card to see if they are able to get free mental health services. If your neighbor is an older American, it can’t’ hurt to check on them too.

Settle said, “Even if it means reaching out to a neighbor that maybe they’re less familiar with, people are really willing to help. We’re in a crazy place right now.”

If you know someone who is elderly, it’s also important that you’re able to spot the signs of depression too.

“If they’re having trouble getting out of bed every day, having crying spells, recognize that those are significant symptoms of depression and so those don’t need to be left untreated so seeking help even from their primary care physician would be appropriate right now,” Settle said.

There are several phone numbers folks can call for mental health help:

  • Tennessee Department of Mental Health Phone: 1-855-CRISIS-1
  • NAMI Tennessee Phone: 615-361-6608
  • Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255
  • American Psychological Association Phone: 1-800-374-2721