Thursday, February 6, 2014

Is Depression a Normal Part of Aging?

Maybe you’ve noticed a change in one of your parents, an elderly friend, or even your spouse. Once-loved activities now elicit sighs of boredom or have become shunned altogether. He or she may seem always “on edge”, restless, or conversely, unusually fatigued. These symptoms could all be subtle signs of depression, a condition becoming more common in older adults, affecting an estimated 1 in 5 Americans 65 and up.
Afflictions of aging may lead to changes in behavior, such as advancing dementia, which sometimes blurs the line with symptoms of depression.  Conditions like arthritis, which can cause considerable pain, also often subsequently lead to decreased mood and energy, and can even lead to depression.
Further, experts say we have a predisposition to symptoms of depression with age, as neurotransmitters that help balance brain chemicals decline, signaling less of the ‘pleasure-giving’ transmission, according to findings at the Bipolar Clinic and Research Program at Massachusetts General Hospital. Thus, we require more stimulation, which is something that we generally receive less of as we age, due to a typical decline in physical activity.
However, if symptoms interfere with daily functioning, addressing the problem becomes a critical need. For more information and tips, visit our depression page.
Tips for Coping with Depression
  • Get regular exercise. Even 30 minutes three times a week can help release mood-boosting endorphins.
  • Get support. Confiding in a friend, partner or counselor  can help work through challenges and help you not face the situation alone.
  • Eat well. A poor diet not only depletes energy levels but a deficiency in certain nutrients (such as iron) can result in fatigue and feelings of depression. Foods high in uplifting serotonin include oats, turkey, milk, pasta and other carbohydrate-rich foods.
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