Most of us look forward to retirement, so it might surprise you to learn that depression is common among retirees. Many different factors can trigger depression, but loneliness or boredom are common causes. Also, as we age, we are more likely to experience grief over the passing of our spouse, close relatives, or friends. The result can be clinical depression.
Since depression will negatively impact your quality of life, it’s important to be on guard against signs of this illness in yourself and your spouse. Signs of depression include:
- Loss of interest in activities you once enjoyed
- Lack of motivation or energy
- Persistent feelings of despair
- Feelings of being a burden, self loathing
- Change in appetite, weight loss, or weight gain
- Unexplained aches and pains
- Trouble sleeping, or sleeping too much
- Increased use of alcohol, or other drugs
- Isolation; no interest in socializing
- Slowed movement or speech
- Memory problems
- Lack of self care (failure to bathe, comb hair, take medications, etc)
- Thoughts of suicide
Often, older adults can experience depression without feeling “sad”. They will display a lack of energy, low motivation, loss of interest in activities, and so on, but claim they cannot be depressed because they don’t feel sad. Keep in mind that depression can manifest this way, too, but it’s just as serious as persistent sadness.
If you suspect depression in yourself, your spouse, or another loved one, the first step is to bring your concerns to your doctor. Many medical conditions can actually trigger depression, such as thyroid disorders, autoimmune disorder, vitamin deficiencies, Parkinson’s disease, Alzheimer’s, and many more. You should be screened for these conditions to rule them out as a possible cause.
If your depression is not triggered by a physical illness, your next step is to identify other possible causes and remedy those. Many people with depression can find relief through exercise, nutrition, sunlight, and seeking new hobbies and social opportunities. Others might need medication, and almost everyone benefits from regular sessions with a skilled therapist.
Your primary physician can help you decide how to proceed, and make the necessary referrals for care. Soon you can get back to your old self, and enjoy your retirement years once again.