JFK Medical Center North Campus
Located in the heart of West Palm Beach, our 250-bed acute care facility has more than 30 years of experience in providing the highest quality of care to our community.

Understanding Depression in the Elderly

One frequently overlooked health problem in the elderly is depression. Depression affects up to 20 percent of seniors and The National Institutes of Health estimates that 35 million Americans over 65 are living with full-blown depression, while an additional five million have a less severe form of the disease. Being vigilant to behavioral health issues in seniors is an essential part of protecting their overall wellbeing. If you or someone you love is a senior dealing with depression, here is what you need to know.

What Are the Symptoms of Depression in the Elderly?

Depression symptoms in the elderly mirror those of the disease in younger people. Chronic feelings of sadness, anxiety, and irritability are common. Depression sufferers may withdraw from their normal activities and pay less attention to their personal hygiene. Weight changes, chronic fatigue, and concentration difficulties are also possible. Some symptoms of depression are similar to symptoms of dementia in the elderly, so it is important to get an accurate diagnosis from a behavioral health specialist when these signs occur.

What Causes Depression in the Elderly?

There are several different factors that can contribute to depression in the elderly. Sometimes, depression is the result of physical health problems, or it can be triggered by the side effects of medications taken to treat health issues. Changes in living environment and loss of close friends or a spouse may also be factors. Isolation and malnutrition frequently play roles in depression in seniors.

What Treatments Are Available?

There is a wide range of treatment options available for seniors who have depression. Outpatient services, inpatient care, and medications can all help. More frequent visits and involvement in social activities can ease loneliness and relieve symptoms. Sometimes, treating an underlying medical problem or making dietary changes can also improve depression symptoms.

The Senior Behavioral Health Program at West Palm Hospital provides a variety of treatment options specialized to meet the medical and psychiatric needs of older adults in a safe and comfortable environment. Depression in the elderly is a widespread problem, but it is not a normal part of aging. For a confidential evaluation or to request a physician referral, call us at (888) 256-7694.

A Patient's Guide to CT Scans

A computed tomography (CT) scan is a commonly used diagnostic tool that allows healthcare providers at West Palm Hospital to take a look at what’s going on inside a patient’s body. CT scans rely on X-ray technology to produce cross-sectional images. However, these images are generally much clearer and far more detailed than traditional X-ray images. Sometimes, a patient will undergo a CT scan after arriving at an emergency care department. However, CT scans are often performed on a non-emergent basis.


CT scans are commonly used to diagnose blood vessel diseases, skeletal issues, and internal injuries from trauma. They allow doctors to quickly identify internal bleeding, particularly when it affects a patient’s skull. CT scans are helpful in evaluating unexplained pain, checking for problems of the organs, and establishing the size and location of tumors. Healthcare providers often use CT scans when planning surgeries, planning radiation therapy for cancer patients, and guiding biopsies.


Before a patient undergoes a CT scan, the doctor should be informed of any recent illnesses. Female patients should inform the physician if they are pregnant or could be pregnant, and all patients should disclose whether they have any medical conditions such as kidney disease, thyroid problems, asthma, diabetes, and heart disease. Sometimes, patients may be asked to refrain from eating and drinking for a few hours prior to the exam. Some patients might also be asked to make temporary changes to their medication regimen. At the hospital, patients can expect to change into a gown and to remove objects such as jewelry or dentures.


CT scans are painless, noninvasive tests that typically take about 10 to 15 minutes. Patients can expect to lie on a bed that is inserted into the CT scanner. Sometimes, contrast material is injected into a vein. While the images are being taken, it’s important to remain very still. Some patients may be asked to briefly hold their breath.

West Palm Hospital is pleased to provide a full range of hospital services, including radiology in West Palm Beach, FL. If you have questions or concerns about an upcoming CT scan or our other outpatient services, you can call our Consult-A-Nurse line at (888) 256-7694. At our community hospital, you’ll also find exceptional wound management services, breast care, and pain management services.

Understanding Behavioral Health Problems in Children and Teens

Behavioral health issues in children and teens can be particularly difficult to identify. This is because behavioral problems such as temper tantrums can occur in a child who does not have a mental illness. Additionally, children naturally undergo many different emotional and mental changes as they grow. The developing brain and the unique maturation rate of each child can further complicate the diagnostic process. If a child consistently displays behavioral issues that interfere with quality of life, it may be time to seek behavioral health support at West Palm Hospital.

Identifying the Types of Mental Disorders

Many different mental disorders may affect children and teens. Some of the most common include anxiety disorders such as generalized anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and social phobia. Other types of mental disorders include disruptive behavior disorders, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, and depression.

Recognizing the Symptoms

The symptoms of behavioral health issues can vary widely, depending on the specific type of disorder. Adolescents with eating disorders may exhibit an irrational fear of gaining weight, while those with anxiety disorders or depression may frequently complain of physical health issues. Abrupt changes in school performance, changes in eating or sleeping habits, social withdrawal, and aggressive behavior or frequent disobedience are other possible signs of a mental health disorder. Some children and teens may behave defiantly toward authority figures, engage in illegal activities such as vandalism and drug use, have frequent nightmares, or be hyperactive.

Getting Help for Children and Teens

Often, the first step toward diagnosing a behavioral health issue is to rule out any underlying physical causes. Then, the child may be referred to a behavioral health specialist for a comprehensive evaluation. Parents and healthcare providers will work together to develop suitable solutions, which may include inpatient care or intensive outpatient therapy.

Here at West Palm Hospital, our behavioral health team understands the complexities of diagnosing and treating mental disorders in children and adolescents. We provide compassionate inpatient care through our Youth Services Program and outpatient services through our Adolescent Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) for adolescents ages 13 through 17. Parents can find out more about behavioral health in West Palm Beach, FL, by visiting our website or calling our Consult-A-Nurse referral line at (888) 256-7694.

Symptoms and Treatments for Sacroiliac Joint Pain

The sacroiliac joint is one possible source of lower back pain. This structure is located at the point where the sacrum and iliac bones come together. The sacrum, which is comprised of five vertebrae, is located at the bottom of the spine. The pelvis is made up of the two large iliac bones. If you’ve been experiencing any of the possible symptoms of sacroiliac joint dysfunction, you might consider talking to a specialist in orthopedics at West Palm Hospital.


Sacroiliac joint dysfunction typically causes symptoms such as mild to severe pain in the lower back, buttocks, pelvis, hip, groin, or back of the thigh. In some patients, the pain may extend down the leg. Patients may notice that certain movements may cause the pain to become worse. These can include bending at the hip, twisting, and walking. The pain may also worsen after sitting or standing for prolonged periods of time. Patients may find relief of pain when lying down. In addition to pain, patients may experience stiffness of the lower back.


Pain care providers may recommend that patients try over-the-counter pain relievers or nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs). If these are not sufficient to relieve symptoms, patients might try prescription pain relievers or muscle relaxants. Some patients may be good candidates for steroid injections, which are delivered directly to the sacroiliac joint to relieve inflammation.

Cold and Heat Therapy

In addition to medications, patients may find relief of symptoms by applying a cold pack wrapped in a light towel to the lower back. Cold packs may be applied for up to 20 minutes at a time, several times per day. Patients can alternate cold therapy with heat therapy to relax the muscles.


Orthopedic doctors typically advise patients to rest to allow the area to heal. However, certain stretches and exercises may be performed under the direction of a physical therapist. Outpatient therapy can help patients stretch the lower back muscles, strengthen the supporting muscles, and improve motion in the area.

Orthopedic care near West Palm Beach, FL, is just one of the many exceptional outpatient services you’ll find at West Palm Hospital. The Orthopedic & Spine Institute offers a continuum of care from specialists in orthopedics such as our board-certified orthopedic surgeons, orthopedic-certified nurses, and physical therapists. If you would like to speak to a registered nurse at our hospital, please call (888) 256-7694.

How Depression Affects Seniors

It’s well known that seniors are at a higher risk of numerous physical health problems due to their age, such as heart disease and prostate cancer. But did you know that seniors are also at a higher risk of depression? Depression is a serious behavioral health problem that is never considered to be a normal part of aging. If you or a senior loved one is struggling with depression, you can find the help you need at The Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Health Services at West Palm Hospital.


Depression is a significant factor fueling the rate of suicide among older adults. Although suicide is often perceived as being a problem that primarily affects young adults, individuals who are 65 years old and older have a higher suicide rate compared to the general population, according to the National Institutes of Health. Older men have a higher risk of suicide than older women. The demographic with the highest suicide rate in the U.S. is Caucasian males ages 85 and older.

Heart Disease

Depression can lead to physical effects in people of all ages. However, it tends to affect seniors differently than younger individuals. Seniors with depression have a significantly higher risk of heart disease and a greater risk of dying from heart disease. Depression is linked with lower survival rates among elderly heart attack victims. Additionally, it can adversely affect a senior’s cardiac rehabilitation.

Lifestyle Choices

Seniors who suffer from depression may be more likely to make unhealthy lifestyle choices, which consequently may result in an increased risk of physical health problems. Depression may contribute to poor nutrition and skipped meals. Or, it may contribute to binge eating and obesity. Additionally, seniors with depression may be more likely to turn to alcohol to cope. Alcohol abuse is of particular concern among the elderly because alcohol can interact with a range of medications.

The Pavilion at West Palm Hospital provides a full range of programs for behavioral health in West Palm Beach, FL, including care of seniors. Our other hospital services include orthopedic care and inpatient hospice care. If you think a senior loved one may be suffering from depression, you can call (888) 256-7694 to speak with a registered nurse at our community hospital.

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