Mental health is just as important as physical health! Mental health is a topic many do not like to discuss. For some, it is looked at as weakness; others feel it is a faux paus to discuss. There is also the misconception that seniors and older adults have no mental health issues. They are retired with no worries in life. This is so far from the truth!
Some key facts:
- One in five older adults has some form of mental disorder, such as depression or anxiety. The most common conditions that those 55 and older are affected with are anxiety, severe cognitive impairment, and mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar disorder. This is not a normal feeling or normal part of aging, and should be treated.
- Older adults have the highest suicide rate in the country. those aged 75 to 84 have the second highest. The CDC show that men aged 85 and older have a suicide rate of 45.23 per 100,000, compared to an overall rate of 11.01 per 100,000 for all ages.
- Depression is the most common mental health problem in older people. Depression is a serious issue with older adults. It can be associated with distress and suffering. It can also lead to impairments in physical, mental, and social functioning, according to the Department of Health and Human Services. More doctor and hospital visits occur from seniors with depression, along with more medicines being taken. And depression is not a part of the aging process…most cases can be treated successfully. But unfortunately the stigma that remains on mental health conditions especially by older adults and the insurance community, many depressive disorders are under-recognized and under- or untreated.
- Two-thirds of seniors with mental health problems do not get the treatment they need. Primary care physicians fail to diagnose depression 50 percent of the time. Only half of older adults who discuss specific mental health problems with a physician receive any treatment.
The following list is some of the common signs of depression. There may be others that are not listed. Also, symptoms differ from person to person. If any of these feelings lasts more than two weeks, please talk with your doctor and seek treatment options.
Some common signs and symptoms of depression:
- Sadness or feelings of despair, empty feelings.
- Hopelessness or worthlessness feelings.
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed; no desire for socialization.
- Disruption in sleep: sleeping too much or not enough.
- Decreased energy, fatigue, lack of motivation, and unexplained aches and pains.
- Changes in appetite, weight loss or gain.
- Increased use of alcohol and/or other drugs.
- Unable to feel positive, or have happy feelings and thoughts.
- Thoughts of suicide, or suicide attempts.
Senior citizens have a great deal of mental health issues because they have many worries and insecure feelings. As we grow older, we often face significant life changes that can increase the risks for depression.
According to HelpGuide.org, these can include:
- Health problems. Illness and disability, chronic or severe pain, cognitive decline, damage to your body image can all be contributors to depression.
- Loneliness and isolation. Factors such as living alone, a dwindling social circle due to deaths or relocation, decreased mobility, or a loss of driving privileges, can all trigger depression.
- Reduced sense of purpose. Retirement can bring with it a loss of identity, status, self-confidence, and financial security and increase the risk of depression. Physical limitations on activities you used to enjoy can also impact your sense of purpose.
- Fears. These include a fear of death or dying, as well as anxiety over financial problems, health issues, or abuse or neglect.
- Recent bereavements. The death of friends, family members, and pets, or the loss of a spouse or partner are common causes of depression in older adults.
Your mental health can be altered and helped. Feelings of anxiousness, stress, and depression are not a normal part of aging. You can overcome these feelings or help others who are having mental health issues.
Here are some ways how:
- Stay social. Talk to friends and family about your feelings. Join a group with others who are having feelings like you. Try to go to social events to feel the energy of others.
- Get physically active. Go for a walk outside and enjoy the sunshine. Go to a group fitness class with others. Watch my workouts and feel positive about yourself.
- Eat a healthy and balanced diet, which includes low sugars, avoid alcohol and caffeine, quality proteins, complex carbohydrates, and healthy fats.
- Work on your sleeping patterns. Try to get 7-9 hours each night. Limit daily naps so you feel tired and can sleep better at night.
- Seek treatment. Talk to your physician. Talk to a counselor or psychiatrist. Possibly look at medications as an option for treatment, if prescribed by a doctor. Make sure other medications that are being taken are looked at for interaction or possibly causing negative feelings.
Remember, your mental health is just as important as your physical health…make it a priority…and with just a few changes, you can make your mental health a priority…And keep yourself All Over Strong!
Stay happy, healthy, and positive always!
**Call the 24-hour National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 800-273-TALK (800-273-8255) or 800-799-4TTY (800-799-4889).
**SAMHSA’s National Helpline, 1-800-662-HELP (4357), (also known as the Treatment Referral Routing Service), via text message: 435748 (HELP4U), or TTY: 1-800-487-4889 is a confidential, free, 24-hour-a-day, 365-day-a-year, information service, in English and Spanish, for individuals and family members facing mental and/or substance use disorders. This service provides referrals to local treatment facilities, support groups, and community-based organizations.
In the U.S.: Find DBSA Chapters/Support Groups or call the NAMI Helpline for support and referrals at 1-800-950-6264
UK: Find Depression support groups in-person and online or call the Mind Infoline at 0300 123 3393
Australia: Find Support Groups and regional resources or call the SANE Help Centre at 1800 18 7263
Canada: Call Mood Disorders Society of Canada at 613-921-5565
India: Call the Vandrevala Foundation Helpline (India) at 1860 2662 345 or 1800 2333 330
Suicide prevention help
In the U.S.: Call National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255
UK and Ireland: Call Samaritans UK at 116 123
Australia: Call Lifeline Australia at 13 11 14
Other countries: Visit IASP or International Suicide Hotlines to find a helpline near you