We call it a case of the blues. We’re down in the dumps. Maybe it’s just deep winter cabin fever. Or, it can be depression and it can be a real problem for older adults and those suffering from chronic pain or persistent illness. As we age, we experience many life changes that can affect us mentally and physically. Changes may come quickly and they can include changes in health, lifestyle, social ability, economics, friends, family and other relationships.
What are the signs of depression? Is it manageable? What can be done to manage depression? Who can help?
Nine Signs of Depression
- Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness
- Isolating oneself even from close friends and family
- Lack of interest in food, everyday activities, and hobbies
- Sleeping more than normal or desire to stay in bed
- Loss of appetite leading to loss of weight
- Increased use of medications, alcohol or some other addiction
- Frequent thoughts of death, suicide or attempts to commit suicide
- Early symptoms of Alzheimer’s
Depression is manageable. It may not at first seem so but over time, even a few weeks or months, depression can be managed. Our brains can be retrained to enjoy life again. No matter what age we are, we can find joy in activities, food, friends and family, hobbies, and nature. The list is endless.
Six Ways to Manage Depression
- Exercise – Experts agree that even 15 to 20 minutes of exercise daily raises the endorphins and serotonin levels in our brains. Endorphins act as pain reducers and serotonin enhances our mood.
- Get into the Sunlight – As we age our levels of vitamin D decrease. Sunlight raises the vitamin D in our bodies, which in turn affects our serotonin levels to improve mood, outlook on life, joy, and desire to be active.
- Eat well-balanced meals – Even one small well-balanced meal a day can lift our spirits as our bodies are fed proper nutrition. Meals-on-Wheels is available in many cities and communities to deliver meals to seniors who are home-bound or unable to prepare their own food. In many areas, senior citizen centers also offer healthy nutritional meals at reduced costs.
- Be social – Join senior group activities.
- Volunteer – It is a proven fact that “there is more happiness in giving.”
- Get a pet – Pets are great givers of affection and attention, especially small dogs.
Everyone can get involved and help fight depression. If you have a parent, a grandparent, a friend, or a neighbor who is aging, look for opportunities to assist. Taking the time to help others leads to satisfaction and joy in our lives. Look for opportunities!