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  • Writer's pictureKaren McPhail, RN, MSN

Seasonal Depression and Supporting Mental Health

Depression is not a normal aspect of aging, although it is often treated as one and thus under treated and misdiagnosed in older adults. Due to a variety of factors, older adults are at greater risk for depression. This is especially pronounced and concerning during covid, for those living alone or having limited socialization in congregate care settings, or for those experiencing a recent loss, having chronic fatigue, pain, or an overall chronic health condition. Early intervention is always key to successful outcomes. However, many older adults are hesitant to express their feelings, concerned about the past stigmas of mental health issues, or feel that they do not really have problem.

Seasonal depression is cyclical and predictable in nature. This provides individuals with a preventative opportunity to minimize symptoms. If you suffer from annual seasonal depression try some simple interventions to ease your challenges:

  • Embrace some changes to support your holistic needs! Break the cycle!

  • Change some of the your indoor decor - try some bright silk flowers at your window or by your bed or other simple items that bring you joy and remind you of the positives and that Spring will be coming!

  • Try light therapy in the early fall before the onset of symptoms.

  • Exercise more - Find something that bring you joy and accomplishment!

  • Increase the overall amount of light at home

  • Try some aroma therapy as this can improve mood and overall outlook!

  • Put onsite music that you enjoy as this often will set the tone and lift ones mood!

  • Make time for you - find something of joy each day!

  • Try mindfulness, meditation, visual imagery, yoga, Tai Chi, and other stress management techniques

  • Spend more time outside (safely and in reasonable weather)

  • Seek out if able climates that have more sun! This is very tough for many during covid!!! Sometimes planning for later can be fun and uplifting! Try even some virtual online tours and travel programs to take a staycation!

If you notice that these symptoms are not simply seasonal and chronic signs of depression are developing in you or in your loved one at any age it is time to seek guidance and encourage treatment. Even during covid there are many virtual options that can provide support and be effective in this regard!

Know the signs:

  • Lack of attention to grooming or hygiene

  • Fatigue or lack of motivation

  • Trouble with focus or concentration

  • Mood changes and irritability

  • Withdrawal or loss of interest in others or activities

  • Insomnia and restlessness or sleeping more and not wanting to get out of bed

  • Overeating or the loss of appetite

  • Stating feelings of hopelessness or finding no please in any activity

  • Sad or anxious feelings that do not go away.

  • Expressing a lack of wanting to live.

  • Consuming alcoholic beverages more or daily

  • Seeking out and taking prescription drugs compulsively

  • Difficulty in making decisions and seeming overwhelmed by life

  • Compulsive shopping, gambling, social media, or other activities as a coping mechanism

Feeling progressively numb, distant, aloof, flat, or just blah...

Depression should always be taken seriously at all ages and never simply be dismissed!

Suicide continues to be the 10th leading cause of death in the US. And surprising to some, individuals over the age of 85 have the highest rate of suicide in our country!!

If you are unsure about how to handle depression in loved one reach out via our contacts area on our home page, as we are here to help!

#depression #depressionolderadults

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