Older Adults and Depression
Depression can happen at any age and many older adults find they are experiencing symptoms, including a decrease in energy and a reduced interest in hobbies and friendships.
Feeling sad and lonely isn’t a normal part of aging. The truth is having hard times can happen to anyone, at any point in life, regardless of their societal status, income level, or achievements. The difference is, sometimes when you get older, there can be more life challenges. Losing a loved one or having health issues, for example, may exacerbate depression symptoms. If this sounds familiar, reach out for help to improve your life.
Grief and Depression
Loss is incredibly painful, and this is true of losing someone we love or losing something within our own experience, such as our independence or career.
Grief can manifest in a wide range of emotions. You might be happy for a day or two and then feel bad again. Know that grieving is normal, but if your feelings of sadness extend over a long period of time, is constant, and negates all feelings of joy in your life, you could be an older adult suffering from depression.
What Are the Symptoms of Depression?
If you recognize the signs of depression it can lead to getting help sooner. While symptoms can vary from person to person (some experience one or two, others more) keep in mind the following are all signs something is wrong.
- Feelings of sadness
- Physical aches and pains, unrelated to a physical issue
- Not being interested in hobbies or friends
- Lack of energy
- Oversleeping or not being able to sleep enough
- Feelings of worthlessness
- Using alcohol or drugs to try to lessen pain
- Not bathing or taking care of personal hygiene
- Memory issues
- Weight loss or weight gain
Older Adults Can Improve Their Lives
You can always make lifestyle changes, whatever phase of life you are in. Just as a young person can learn and change so can older adults. The brain is always adapting and you can take steps to make changes for the better, even when you are an older adult with depression. Talk to a professional and work to make adjustments on your own, if you can.
Engage with the world through volunteering. Or join friends or family members for a meal, a concert, or a walk through the neighborhood. If you can’t think of who to call, consider joining a support group to be around others who are experiencing similar issues.
Also, try to infuse meaning into your life by learning new things and getting involved in the community you live in (and not dwell on missing a community from your past). You could learn to paint or take a foreign language class.
As you feel better, it will be easier to change your daily physical habits as well. Get exercise, moving your body every day when possible, and eat healthy meals by reducing carbs and sugars while boosting proteins and complex carbohydrates.
You don’t have to be an older adult experiencing depression, you deserve a happy life.
About the Author
I’m Kendall Van Blarcom, the founder of Van Blarcom Consulting. For over 25 years, I have provided personal consulting and counseling to over 1,000 clients around the world.
I am a licensed marriage and family therapist (MFT) based in California. I have decades of consulting experience and a genuine desire to help my clients.
View All Articles