Maude’s Tips for Fighting Depression

By Meddling Maude on February 26, 2014

I know how hard it is for people of our generation to talk about depression; however, I’m here today to tell you that life is too short to suffer with a condition that is treatable.

Depression is not a natural part of aging. One of the major causes of depression among the elderly is a diminished quality of life. Increased illness, loneliness after losing a spouse and a loss of purpose after retiring all contribute to depression. Exacerbating this problem is that, with the increase in physical illness, doctors spend little time with mental health. In a recent study, more than half the patients whose survey responses suggested they were depressed never spoke with their doctors at all about their emotional state. Additionally, medications prescribed for physical ailments can actually cause or worsen depression. If you’re suffering from depression, ask your doctor if any of your medications have a side effect of depression and see if there are alternatives that don’t cause or worsen depression.

The good news is that once diagnosed, 80 percent of people who are clinically depressed can be effectively treated by medication, psychotherapy, or any combination of the two. Additionally, combating the situational causes for depression – isolation, sedentary lifestyle and loneliness – can all be helped by engaging the person in the following “Get” activities:

Get moving! Exercise appears to stimulate the growth of neurons in certain brain regions, acting as a natural mood elevator. One study found that three sessions of yoga per week boosted participants’ levels of the brain chemical GABA, resulting in a better mood and decreased anxiety. Tai chi has also been proven effective in treating both depression and certain physical ailments. In a recent study, 94 percent of depressed older adults showed marked improvement on depression scales after 10 weeks of tai chi.

Get out! Isolation is one of the major triggers of depression. Engaging a loved one in an activity provides both mental and physical stimulation, decreasing depression. Try something new they’ve never done before – leaving familiar surroundings exposes people to different stimuli and engages the brain in fresh and often challenging ways, which helps stave off dementia, another contributing factor to depression.

Get involved! As human beings, we have an innate desire to interact with other people. More than just the desire to make our lives more interesting, numerous studies have concluded that socializing with others actually improves our health. Volunteer or visit their local senior or community center can help combat isolation and loneliness. If you have a specific issue that is causing your depression – such as an illness or death of a spouse – find a support group. Simply interacting with others who are going through the same thing you are can help ease depression.