Depression is a serious illness that many seniors experience. Although about 20% of people over 65 are believed to have depression, many of those risk going undiagnosed. Since many seniors grew up lacking a good understanding of mental illness, they’re unlikely to recognize depression for what it is and seek out help when they experience it.
The risks for seniors that don’t acknowledge or try to do anything about their depression are serious. Seniors with depression have higher rates of suicide and malnutrition. They’re more likely to have trouble sleeping and just generally experience a worse quality of life.
Seniors don’t just deserve to live longer with modern medicine; they deserve the chance to live better. If you or a senior loved one is dealing with depression, there are a few ways to fight it.
- Start exercising.
The research on the link between exercising and depression is clear. Incorporating regular physical activity into your life, even if it’s just daily walks, will improve your mood and help stave off some of the effects of depression. It’s not a cure all, but it does help. And as an added bonus, exercise is good for reducing the risks of a myriad set of other illnesses.
Some seniors see the idea of going to therapy as something taboo. It’s worth working to overcome that impression and give it a try. Trained therapists know how to recognize the signs of depression and help seniors figure out techniques for dealing with the depression itself as well as the root cause.
The main trick with therapy is that you have to actually give it a genuine try for it to work. If a depressed senior can go in with an open mind and really work with the therapist to try to understand themselves and the situation they face though, it can help them make big strides toward fighting off the depression.
- Make an effort to get out more.
In some cases, depression is directly related to seniors feeling cut off from a community. If you rarely get out of the house and socialize with other people, then your life is missing something really important. Making an effort to get out more – for example, by taking up a social hobby, starting to volunteer, or joining a local religious congregation – can help many seniors tackle one of the main root causes of their depression.
- Consider a pet.
To be clear, pets aren’t for everybody. They require work and some seniors may not be up to the task, but if you’ve generally loved animals throughout your life, then keeping one now may be just what you need. Pets frequently help alleviate the effects of depression and anxiety. Maybe it’s their unconditional love, or the comfort of having a furry, soft animal to cuddle with each day. No matter the reason why it works, it does. If you like animals, consider adopting a dog or cat as a means to improve your mood and fight off depression.
- Talk to your doctor about medication.
If your doctor thinks it’s a good idea, antidepressants or other prescription meds can sometimes help lift people out of depression. If none of these other tips seem to help, or if the depression feels serious enough that you think you need a stronger approach to tackle it, talk to your doctor about whether depression medication is right for you.
There’s no reason to live with depression if you can help it. It’s often hard to find the solution that helps you get past your depression and it may take trying a few things, but with the right help, you should be able to find your way back
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