Learn & Grow/News/Depression Later in Life: Conquering Depression in Seniors

Depression Later in Life: Conquering Depression in Seniors

We all experience moments of sadness sometimes, but what happens when sadness is not a fleeting feeling but an everyday part of life? Contrary to what many may think, clinical depression is not a normal part of aging. While depression can feel overwhelming, the good news is that it’s treatable. Here are some signs that you or a loved one may be struggling with depression and some actionable tactics to overcome it. 

Signs of Depression

Many people believe that depression is simply about feeling “sad” or “down.” However, depression manifests in different ways and varies person-to-person. Common symptoms of depression to look for in seniors include:

  • Memory issues
  • Difficulty making decisions and concentrating
  • Irregular sleep patterns, such as insomnia or oversleeping 
  • Persistently feeling sad, hopeless, worthless, guilty, or helpless
  • Acting anxious, agitated, or angry 
  • Feeling apathy and emptiness
  • Loss of interest in enjoyable activities 
  • Extreme eating habits, such as loss of appetite or overeating
  • Suicidal ideation and/or attempts
  • Decreased energy or fatigue 
  • Chronic pain
  • Restlessness
  • Withdrawal from family and friends

Causes of Depression

There are various genetic, psychological, biological, social, and environmental factors that can contribute to depression, including

  • Feeling lonely and isolated 
  • Low activity levels
  • Chronic stress
  • Poor sleep quantity or quality
  • Physical limitations
  • Addiction, alcoholism, or prolonged substance abuse
  • Personal or family history of depression
  • Facing mortality 
  • Financial hardships
  • Chronic health issues, such as diabetes, cancer, heart disease, hypothyroidism, Alzheimer’s, and more
  • Medications that may have depression listed as a side effect

Major life events can also be a big cause of depression. Things like leaving a beloved career, experiencing a health scare, moving, the loss of a loved one, a traumatic event, and more can cause or exacerbate depression. 

How to Overcome Depression

Please note that there is hope—depression is treatable, even if it’s severe. Here are some strategies that can help you find relief. 

Speak to a Medical Professional

The first, and most important step you can take is to seek treatment from your doctor as soon as you notice depression symptoms. Your doctor will run tests to determine if your depression is caused by certain medications or medical conditions. If those are ruled out, your doctor may refer you to a mental health professional for a psychological diagnosis. They may prescribe different therapies, supplements, or medications.  

Keep Healthy Habits

Depending on the type of depression you have, making certain lifestyle changes can help you cultivate a healthy mind, body, and spirit. Here are a few:

  • Exercise regularly. Exercise causes your body to release endorphins—natural “feel-good” chemicals—that can help mitigate feelings of depression. Even walking for 30 minutes per day has proven beneficial. However, be sure to speak to a medical professional before embarking on any new exercise routine. 
  • Eat a healthy, well-balanced diet. While food won’t necessarily cure your depression, there are certain foods that can help support good mental health. Try to keep a nutritious diet full of lean proteins, nuts, fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. Avoid alcohol and other drugs. 
  • Prioritize sleep. Too little sleep or too much can actually worsen depression. Practice good sleep hygiene to ensure you get enough good-quality sleep.
  • Spend time outdoors. Taking walks in nature and getting natural light can boost serotonin and improve your mood, which may help improve depressive symptoms.
  • Try to follow a routine. Depression can interrupt the structure of your life, and lacking a daily routine can worsen depression, which creates a dangerous cycle. Create a routine that works for you, including consistent waking and sleeping times. When we know what to expect each day, it’s easier for us to counteract negative thought patterns and behaviors. 

Connect with Others

While depression may cause you to isolate yourself, it’s important that you resist this temptation. As naturally social beings, humans aren’t meant to go through life alone. 

Spend time with your family and friends. If you can’t see them in person, connect virtually via phone call or video chat. Remember, these people care about you—dismiss any feelings of being a burden. They likely need social support just as much as you do. 

Find Your People at Querencia

Living in a supportive, tight-knit community that prioritizes your mental, physical, emotional, and spiritual health, like Querencia at Barton Creek, can help ease the feelings of isolation that cause depression. Here, it’s easy to enjoy your favorite pastimes and share them with others. Find the friendships you’ve been looking for at our community events and gatherings. Practice healthy habits with tailored wellness programs and nutritious, chef-prepared meals that satisfy your palette. Contact us today to learn more, or complete the form below. 

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