Many people think that as they get older they can no longer learn anything or that they will no longer change. When it comes to mental illness, this is a dangerous fallacy. Depression is no more common in older people than in young people. But milder depressions or those in which not all symptoms occur are two to three times more common in older people, according to the German Depression Aid.

Stiftung Warentest advises people aged 65 and over to take psychological problems seriously and not to be afraid of going to a psychotherapist if they have mental problems. The family doctor can be the first point of contact.

Symptoms of depression such as withdrawal from social circles, memory problems or a low mood are often not taken seriously in older people and are dismissed as ailments of old age. Depression is more often overlooked in older people because the depressed mood is attributed to physical ailments, reports Stiftung Warentest. Those suffering from depression often perceive existing problems as worse than they actually are. While this is more often related to work in younger people, it is often related to health problems such as back problems in older people.

“Both the patients and those treating them have grown up with the image that old age means decline and loss, but does not provide the ability to change,” says psychology professor Meinolf Peters, who heads the Institute for Geriatric Psychotherapy in Marburg, to the foundation Product test. The result: Many older people never even consider starting psychotherapy. The sufferers don’t even think about seeking psychotherapy. Because of the same assumption, some psychotherapists have a certain shyness about treating older people.

Another point that prevents older people in particular from starting therapy is that mental illnesses used to be more stigmatized. You don’t want to be seen as crazy and you don’t really trust therapy, says Peters.

But psychotherapy can help with mental problems at any age. There are special forms of therapy for older people. For example, life review therapy, in which patients can look at their lives, take stock and reconcile with it.

You can find more information in the paid guide from Stiftung Warentest