Mental Health and Aging

Daily Health Solutions, Healthy Aging
on August 13, 2011
Think Stock

Over time, especially in combination with other ailments, mental health issues may crop up. Specifically, depression can be a major problem for adults over age 65, particularly those who have recently retired. These also frequently coincide with major age-related diseases. The National Institute of Mental Health states, “Depression can and should be treated when it co-occurs with other illnesses, for untreated depression can delay recovery from or worsen the outcome of these other illnesses.” Several options are available for treating depression and similar mental health issues that may be effective.

Traditional therapies. Depression is typically treated with drug therapy, often in combination with “talk therapy,” to help you identify the root of the problem and develop coping skills. Talk therapy may also be done alone, especially if you would really rather not take medication for depression symptoms. In addition, it is absolutely essential to make sure you get a good amount of quality sleep and eat a well-balanced diet, supplementing it with a multi-vitamin if you don’t feel you’re getting enough nutrition in your normal diet.

Get active. Exercise is not only good for the physical body, but for the mind as well. Proper exercise will help stimulate endorphins and other important chemicals (including the neurotransmitters that may be responsible for depression), as well as improve circulation. Better circulation means better nutrient delivery to your brain, allowing you to think clearer with greater cognitive skills.

Re-connect with others. Whether we like it or not, we are social creatures. Humans are designed to thrive with at least some socialization, though the best level will vary according to each individual. Over time, it’s easy for people to get wrapped up in their own lives, and you often lose track of family and friends that were once very important to you. Sitting at home alone can deepen depression. Re-connecting with old friends comes with the thrill of re-discovery, as well as the stimulating conversations that often accompany years of reminiscing. Alternatively, get involved with local organizations that need volunteers in an area that interests you.