Note: Content on this blog is for informational purposes and should not be mistaken for medical advice. Please consult a physician or other medical professional or specialist for all health matters. Resources used are linked within the post.
Leaving the winter months can feel a little bit like a new bud springing from the dark, cold ground and opening up towards the sun. However, for some, that revitalized feeling never comes and instead, depression and anxiety sets in. There is not a single cause to depression or other mental health issues, nor a sure-fire way to prevent it. However, there are ways to improve your chances of preventing the development of depression symptoms and other mental illnesses.
Depression in Seniors
People experiencing symptoms of depression and anxiety are not alone. More than 6.5 million Americans aged 65 or older is affected by depression according to the National Alliance of Mental Illness. Depression can lead to cognitive impairment which has an increased risk of developing Alzheimer’s or other forms of dementia.
The majority of older adults are not experiencing depression, however, if experiencing symptoms of depression it is important to see a medical professional. Prioritizing mental health may help prevent the major symptoms of depression, and may also aid in slowing some of the symptoms of diseases related to memory loss.
Five Ways to Prioritize Your Mental Health
- Visit Your Doctor— The single most important way that you can prioritize your mental health is to regularly visit with your physician. Be open and honest about changes in your mood and health. Regularly visiting your doctor may help catch symptoms early, get a correct diagnosis, and allow you to prevent the worsening of symptoms.
- Keep Mentally Active— Playing board games, enjoying a daily crossword or participating in a trivia activities are all ways to exercise your mind. Stimulating your brain by learning new skills, playing games that challenge your mind and increasing your social interaction may aid in keeping yourself mentally sharp.
- Keep Physically Active—Another way to stimulate the brain is to increase the blood flow to your brain with physical exercise. Even something as simple as sixty minutes of dancing each week can help reduce the symptoms of depression.
- Socialize—Loneliness and isolation can make depression symptoms even more pronounced. Participating in events, having coffee with a friend and talking to loved ones on the phone are all ways to stimulate the brain and minimize the symptoms of depression. Late-Life Social Activity and Cognitive Decline in Old Age—a study that examined the association of social activity with cognitive decline in over 1,000 people without dementia for a period of 12 years— concluded that, “Social activity was associated with higher baseline levels of global cognition and with a reduced rate of cognitive decline. “
- Eat a healthy diet—Consuming lots of vegetables and good fats (such as fatty fish, nuts and olives) has many benefits, including the minimizing the risks of cognitive decline!
We encourage you to take advantage of the spring bounty of fresh vegetables, the longer hours of sunlight and the many fun activities going on in your local community and prioritize your mental health.