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June 27, 2014

How Older Adults Can Combat Depression

If you think you might be suffering from depression, take heart: There are a number of treatment options available. However, many older adults shy away from discussing their depression with their doctor because they don’t want to resort to medication. While you should always talk to your physician if you suspect you are suffering from depression, there are some other outlets for help that you can try.

3 Approaches to Combat Depression Without Medication

  • Exercise: Endorphins can have powerful mood-boosting effects, so adopting a regular exercise routine can help alleviate many of the symptoms associated with depression. You don’t have to start running marathons to reap these benefits either. Simply taking a walk or finding other ways to add light activity into your day can make a big difference in your mental and physical wellbeing.
  • Social connections: Depression in older adults is often marked by feelings of isolation and loneliness. Forging social connections with others can help you feel supported in a time when you need it most. However, since face-to-face connections aren’t always possible, the Internet can offer an alternative solution. A survey that collected six years of data determined that older adults who used the Internet to stay in touch with loved ones were less likely to suffer from depression. Tools like email, social media, or even video chatting can make the distance between you and your loved ones feel smaller than ever.
  • Try something new: Shaking up your routine or finding a new activity can have a positive influence on feelings of depression. While it might not be a long-term fix, committing yourself to a new experience can be a step in the right direction. Depending on what you choose, you might even make a new social connection and get some exercise—essentially killing three birds with one stone!

Of these three options, the most accessible for you to try right this minute is forging online social connections.

3 Tips for Connecting Online

  • Ask your loved ones for their preferred method of communication: There are many choices for connecting online. Asking your loved ones for their preferred method allows you to find them where they want to be found. For instance, your grandchildren might love communicating with you over email, but they might not want to be your Facebook friend.
  • Don’t be afraid to try something new: Just because you’ve never video chatted before doesn’t mean you can’t learn. You might find the process rather intuitive once you give it a shot, so don’t be afraid to test the waters of a new form of communication.
  • Find old friends: You can reconnect with old friends through social media. Try searching names of people you may have lost touch with and see what happens.

While making connections online, exercising, and getting a new hobby can certainly help with symptoms of depression, there is no substitute for your doctor’s advice in serious cases. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health, so don’t hesitate to ask for help when you need it. 

For more help understanding your mental health, see this helpful guide.

Understand Mental Health


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