Although depression is common among seniors, it is not an inevitable aspect of getting older. If you think you or someone you love is currently experiencing depression, read on to learn how to spot the causes and signs, and get effective coping strategies.
Causes of Depression
Has the joy of gardening faded away? Do you find yourself lacking enthusiasm and energy when planning an outing with friends? Are sad and anxious thoughts playing in a loop in your mind? While there is no single cause of depression, there are a multitude of physical, mental, and social factors that can manifest it.
These are the most common triggers of depression in seniors.
- Isolation. Some seniors choose to age in their own homes, but this living arrangement can be lonely, especially if friends and family live far away. This can heighten feelings of isolation. A National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) report found that nearly a quarter of adults aged 65 and older are socially isolated. This isolation can not only lead to depression, but can also increase risk of physical health issues such as high blood pressure and heart disease.
- Mental or physical limitations. Changes in physical mobility or mental capacity due to a chronic condition, sudden illness or injury can evoke feelings of helplessness, potentially triggering depression.
- Family history. Genetics also play a role. If depression runs in your family, there’s a likelihood it can affect you as well.
- Constant stress. Stress is a normal part of life, but constant stress for prolonged periods of time can lead to depression.
Signs of Depression in Seniors
Although you may not be in control of factors that can activate depression, you can be on the lookout for common symptoms of depression such as:
- Constantly feeling sad, hopeless, anxious, numb, or empty
- Unexplained fatigue or significant decrease in energy
- Loss of interest in activities you used to enjoy
- Change in appetite: eating more or less than usual
These are just some of the signs of depression. If you are struggling with one or more of these symptoms, schedule an appointment with your physician or a healthcare professional to determine if depression is the cause and get help to treat it.
Ways to Cope with Depression
Thankfully, there are techniques you can integrate into your daily routine to assist in managing depression.
Speak to a Medical Professional
Seek professional support to help navigate depression. Depression is a serious condition, and requires expert guidance in how it’s managed and treated. Your doctor may recommend medication, psychotherapy, talk therapy, counseling, or a combination of these methods to help you manage or overcome this condition.
Mindfulness activities champion living in the moment and focusing on the positive. Although mindfulness is not a guaranteed solution for curing depression, it can help redirect your mind away from negative thoughts and emotions. Your healthcare professional may recommend journaling, yoga, or other mindfulness exercises to improve your mental health.
Fuel Your Body
During a depressive episode, you might find yourself drawn to high-fat, high-sugar options. While this might offer temporary comfort, indulging in these foods can worsen your depression. On the other hand, when you’re not in a depressive state, you might feel happier and inclined to indulge in these foods as well. This perpetuates the harmful cycle of food contributing to depression and depression leading to increased consumption of unhealthy food.
That’s why it’s crucial to adopt a well-balanced diet that can actively enhance your mental health. The Mediterranean diet is one such highly-recommended plant-based option. It encourages eating more fruits, vegetables, and lentils, as well as a moderate amount of fish rich in omega-3 fatty acids. Connect with a registered dietitian who can create personalized diets or meal plans to support your mental and physical health and reduce the likelihood of depression.
Belong to a Community
Last but not least, surround yourself with friends and family. Reaching out for help when dealing with depression might be difficult, but it’s essential to remember that you deserve support, and your loved ones genuinely want to see you improve. Being around loved ones can serve as a reminder that you are a cherished individual and that life is hopeful. This is why so many older adults choose to reside in a socially engaging senior living community, where fellow residents can easily mingle and establish new friendships, all while enjoying the comforts of resort-style living.
Find New Ways to Connect at Beacon Hill
If you’re seeking to alleviate feelings of loneliness, rekindle long-lost passions, and enhance your physical and mental well-being, consider the potential benefits of moving to a vibrant senior living community such as Beacon Hill. Situated in Lombard, Illinois, just 30 minutes from downtown Chicago, Beacon Hill prioritizes the mental and physical health of residents while also offering high-quality amenities and five-star services.
The compassionate professionals who are part of our team are dedicated to helping you achieve your health goals, whether that means increasing your physical mobility, improving your balance, or staying connected with others. Get in touch with us to discover more about what living at Beacon Hill is like.