No matter what stage of life you are in, you can experience depression. For older adults, depression can sometimes be hidden among other health problems, medications, and social isolation. It’s important to know the signs and seek treatment. Depression can be a serious illness, but you can alleviate its symptoms and effects on your life.
Talk to Your Doctor
Your doctor should conduct a depression screening during your annual wellness check. If so, speak up and be honest about what you are experiencing. And, any time you notice symptoms such as persistent sadness, mood swings, sleep disruptions, or feelings of hopelessness, you should see your primary care physician right away.
Prepare for your appointment by making a list of questions and concerns you want to bring up. Also bring a list of medications and supplements you take because some can cause depression as a side effect. Discuss causes and treatments with your physician and work together on a treatment plan.
Change Your Diet
At the same time, try to make changes in your diet. Eating healthier foods, especially those with certain micronutrients, can have positive effects on the chemical and hormonal balance in your brain and body. In turn, this can improve your mental health.
Magnesium, folate, Vitamin D, and antioxidants are all nutrients that can improve symptoms of depression. Magnesium and folate, also known as Vitamin B9, are found in leafy green vegetables and beans. Berries are a great source of antioxidants that can help fight depression. To get Vitamin D, eat more fish and mushrooms.
Become More Active
Studies have found that even small amounts of regular exercise can help your body fight depression. Exercise stimulates your body to release hormones such as endorphins and serotonin that improve your mood. The increased blood flow also brings oxygen to your brain, which improves cognition.
A short walk each day may be enough to reap the benefits. Taking an exercise class or joining a gym can also be helpful. Exercising with others increases your motivation, and it’s more enjoyable when you can share the activity with others.
Depression later in life can be treated in a number of ways, but it’s important to realize what’s going on and consult your doctor. You can also make changes to your lifestyle that can alleviate depression symptoms and prevent them from recurring in the future.
Check out this article on factors that can lead to better health outcomes in retirement!