Peggy Templeman: My symptoms included loss of appetite, inability to sleep... I guess for a while I was irritable. I would begin to shun people because I knew something was wrong and I didn't want them to know.
Narrator: Peggy Templeman is 78 years old and has experienced depression throughout her adult life.
Peggy: It would come and then it would go for maybe over 40 years.
Narrator: About two million older adults in the United States suffer from full-blown depression. Another five million suffer from less severe forms of the illness. Depression in later life can be caused by a variety of factors.
Dr. George Niederehe: The triggers for depression are changes in health, traumatic events, major changes in one's life circumstances, loss of people who are dear to you, loss of the ability to do the kinds of things that you are used to doing and give you pleasure.
Narrator: The triggers for Peggy's bouts of depression included high levels of stress, an inner ear disease and losing a valued psychotherapist.
Peggy: And to find out my psychiatrist would kill himself... wow, that was a blow and and a shock and I just didn't know which way to turn.
Narrator: Left without her therapist and unable to find another one, Peggy's depression deepened.
Peggy: And so I began to get sicker and sicker. Finally I did go to another psychiatrist with the HMO and that particular professional told my husband and me that he saw nothing wrong.
Narrator: The lack of appropriate treatment almost led to a deadly outcome.
Peggy: My husband had to go to work, no one was at home, I was sick and so I did not take the medication and so finally I did make an attempt to harm myself. I was seeking help.
Narrator: Peggy did get help and the combination of talk therapy and medications made a significant difference.
Peggy: With the medication initially and with talk therapy, psychotherapy, then I really began to get back on my feet. I had a marvelous psychotherapist who I continue to see periodically now.
Narrator: Peggy's experience with depression involved a spiritual side which she says was key to her improvement. She even wrote a book about it.
Peggy: The medications, all of that, and the talk therapy led to the spirituality, the meditation, the sitting in silence, the communing with the Almighty...
Narrator: Although depression is treatable, people should realize that it may take time to find the right treatments and for those treatments to work.
Dr. Niederehe: Treatments for it typically need to be approached as something that's going to take a considerable period of time in order to have a beneficial effect.
Narrator: Peggy's journey out of depression was long and difficult but she is now in recovery and she has a message for those who may be suffering with this disease.
Peggy: Talk, tell it to the family, tell it to the friend, tell it to the family doctor. Help is here. Help is there.