There’s help Available for Older Australians who are Dealing With Depression and Anxiety
According to Beyond Blue, a mental health support and informational network, around 10 to 15% of older Australians experience some form of depression, and about 10% percent experience anxiety. For those living in residential aged care, the rate of depression is thought to be substantially higher, at around 35%. Despite the increase in awareness and the attempts to tackle the stigmas around anxiety and depression, many older people still view them as some kind of weakness and not a real health condition that can be treated without judgement.
There are a number of factors that are unique to the situation of seniors, which increase their risk of developing depression. Fortunately, understanding these risks and knowing how to identify the symptoms can help treat and even prevent these conditions from becoming worse. It can be extremely taxing to watch a loved one battle against depression, let alone experience it yourself. So whether you’re concerned for a loved one, yourself or just want to make sure you don’t slip into depression when you begin your retirement years, there’s help out there. Here’s a breakdown of the risk factors, the signs and symptoms, treatment methods as well as some tips on how to prevent depression from creeping in.
While depression and anxiety can affect people of all ages, there are a number of unique factors which can contribute towards these conditions presenting themselves in seniors particularly. These factors are typically related to one’s’ stage in the life cycle, and while these factors may be unavoidable, it certainly helps knowing what they are. These main factors typically include:
- Chronic pain or illness: the stress of being diagnosed with a physical condition or disease can trigger depression as one becomes, often reluctantly, more reliant on medication and the help of others to perform daily functions.
- Loss of a partner and/or close friends: Bereavement is associated with feelings of depression as one loses someone special to them. At an age where the loss of close friends and family can become more frequent, depression can certainly set in.
- Social isolation: Whether due to physical inability, a reduction in daily activities, the move into a retirement home alone, or all three, one’s social environment can decrease dramatically in their retirement years. The lack of interaction and ability to be actively involved in daily life can take a toll on one’s mental health.
So with all these factors at play, how can you identify whether you, or a loved one is experiencing the onset of depression? According to Counselling Sydney, depression takes the form of a multitude of dramatic mental and physical symptoms.
Mental symptoms include:
- Feeling sad or down for a period of two weeks or more.
- Lack of interest in engaging with others and usual hobbies or activities.
- Thoughts of hurting yourself or of ending your own life.
Physical symptoms can include:
- Intense fatigue or desire to sleep more than usual.
- Changes in eating habits including weight loss or weight gain.
- Difficulty sleeping or the inability to get to sleep.
- Difficulty concentrating and making simple decisions.
Now that you know what can cause depression, as well as how to identify its symptoms, you can be comforted with the knowledge that it is entirely treatable. While depression can’t always be avoided, you can seek the advice of a medical professional and take steps to ensure life after retirement works for you. This takes some planning, but all for a good cause. If you know you’re nearing the retirement mark, start to think about life after work and how you’ll keep yourself busy. Even getting out for just a couple of hours each day will help you get your daily dose of social interaction and help stave off any feelings of loneliness or lack of purpose.
And finally, know that help is available. Start by contacting Beyond Blue. There are treatments out there tailored to older people to get you on a path to recovery.