How to keep Depression at Bay as You Age

How to keep Depression at Bay as You Age

September 27, 2021

How to keep Depression at Bay as You Age

Depression Mental Health

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems people face ranging from mild to severe. According to the National Institute of mental health (NIH), depression is a major public health problem affecting around 17.3 million adults in the United States. This number represents nearly 7.1 % of the population in the US.

As people age, depression may set in due to various factors making them even more vulnerable. Statistics say that clinical depression affects approximately six million elderly population in the United States. Being the most common mental health disorder, it has the ability to impair one’s ability to think, focus and compound struggle to carry out daily responsibilities. One of the most devastating impacts of depression is suicidal thoughts. According to a study published by NCBI, suicidal deaths contribute to around 1.4% deaths worldwide and majority of the suicidal deaths are linked to psychiatric disorder and depression.

State of mental health disorders has exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic. Statistics reveal that senior citizens in the United States are exposed to risk factors like financial challenges, social isolation and prolonged illness- precursors to the onset of major depression in them. The COVID-19 has added to all these factors.

However, this is a highly treatable condition with a little effort. Recognizing early signs of depression in the elderly or your loved ones will give you an opportunity to help them by intervening in the initial stages of the disorder, and save lives.

Identifying the signs of depression is important

Elderly people may experience depression for multiple reasons such as physical ailments, the loss of spouse, retirement from work, feelings that life lacks purpose, or facing neglect from the family. All these experiences can be overwhelming for them. The problems complicate when the signs of depression are often confused with other mental health condition or side effects of any medication. Hence, it is paramount to recognize the symptoms of depression in the elderly.

The most prominent signs of depression include:

  • Feelings of helplessness, hopelessness, or worthlessness
  • Unexplained or aggravated pains and aches
  • Irritability, anxiety and worries
  • Lack of motivation
  • Very low on energy and loss of interest in hobbies and socializing
  • A constant feeling of guilt
  • Frail memory
  • Slowed physical movement and speech
  • Seeing and hearing voices or things that do not exist in real
  • Suicidal thoughts or adapting suicidal behavior
  • An inability to function and perform daily responsibilities and duties
  • Loss of appetite and tendency to skip meals or forget medications
  • Neglecting personal hygiene

Is it grief, clinical depression or dementia?

Depression and grief have similar symptoms. Therefore, it is quite difficult to differentiate between them by looking at the signs. Grief is associated with mixed emotions. A person might feel happy at one moment and might get engrossed with a feeling of sadness the next. On the other hand, in depression, a person perpetually experiences the feeling of sadness, despair and emptiness from within.

A person grappling with dementia experiences short term memory loss and rapid decline in medical condition. They tend to remain confused on activities they have performed. They tend to forget date, time and place. In depression, a person’s memory remains intact. However they find it difficult to concentrate as their overwhelming emotions make it painful for them.

How to cope with depression?

Depression is all pervasive and doesn’t differentiate— be it age, race, gender or religion. It can affect anyone at any point of time. But when elderly people have to endure it, the pain becomes manifold. By making senior citizens aware of the coping skills, they are empowered to lead a much better life.

The coping skills can include:

  • Practicing relaxation techniques: By going for a walk, jogging, practicing yoga or doing some household chores one can feel relaxed. Many studies have shown that staying active and doing exercises works like antidepressants and help in relieving depression.
  • Don’t live life in isolation: Depression can make you isolate yourself from the rest. A depressed elderly might start to avoid friends, family and loved ones, which can be inimical under the circumstance. Therefore it is important not to stay alone. Try speaking to your loved ones and share your despair with them. Build a new friend circle or support groups to help you wade through your condition.
  • Sleep well: Depression can trigger insomnia in many individuals. Practicing mindfulness can help in relieving symptoms of insomnia. Try to get sleep for at least seven to nine hours every day. Hitting the sack early and waking up before sunrise is also a good-to-adopt habit for a better state of mind.
  • Eat Healthy: Studies have shown that eating healthy food can boost energy as well as your mood. Avoid taking junk food and sugar so you that do not aggravate any low mood or feelings.
  • Adopt recreational activities: Engaging in activities such as caring for pet, watching good movies, reading books, and painting or following any hobby can help in alleviating symptoms of depression.

Get professional help

Depression is a treatable mental health condition. However, you should get professional help even when the symptoms are mild.

If you or a loved one is grappling with any mental health condition, seek immediate help from experts. Mental health counseling ensures recovery that is lasting and permanent.

Invictus health group collaborates with the best mental health treatment centers across California to treat mental health conditions and co-occurring disorders. You can avail customized treatment programs, based on individual medical assessment by contacting us.

To know more about inpatient mental health treatment with residential facilities and partial hospitalization facilities call us today at our toll free number 866-548-0190.

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