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The holiday period can bring much joy and happiness to many; but for others the Christmas season can bring on a severe case of the blues or worsen symptoms of depression and anxiety, particularly for the elderly.
Overall, depression in older adults is a more common occurrence. Retirement, loss of loved ones, increased isolation, and medical issues are often stressors that can lead to depression. If left untreated, depression can worsen, potentially leading to feelings of hopelessness and helplessness that need immediate medical treatment.
The good news is that there are steps that people can take to address symptoms of the blues or depression. Encore Wellness has assembled a few habits of happiness that may give you a glimpse hope for the holiday period and beyond:
Strengthen Your Mind: Studies show that people who keep their mind busy have stronger immune systems and are less likely to become anxious. Being cognitive of your physical well-being and social relationships, paying attention to those around you, keeping your mind active with positive thoughts and activity while avoiding negative views and situations can lead to a greater sense of well-being.
Seek Social Interaction: Social connections are one of the keys to happiness in older adults. Research indicates it is quality more than quantity. Make time for those closest to you and continue to develop positive relationships with family or friends. Join a community senior center or take up some type of hobby that may connect you with like-minded people.
Be Thankful: Research says the enormous power of simply counting our blessings is a good way to improve a positive outlook. Regular expressions of gratitude promote optimism, better health and greater satisfaction with your overall life.
Exercise: Probably the most powerful antidepressant there is today for seniors or those of any age is exercise. Exercise promotes powerful positive chemicals in your brain and will make you feel better in both mind and body. Even a short walk around the block is a good way to start. Or ask your health plan if they offer exercise programs that will provide a safe and positive environment for you to exercise. There is a positive social aspect to exercise as well as you will be meeting new people.
Practice Being Kind: Being nice to others makes us feel good, especially during the holiday period. Doing good for others can ignite the same pleasure centers in the brain as exercise, food and sex.
Talk to Your Doctor: Seeking the advice of your regular doctor or a mental health professional is very important when coping with depression. Research shows that engagement in talk therapy, support groups and medications may be very helpful.
This information from Encore Wellness is intended for educational purposes only and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please consult your health care provider for advice about treatments that may affect your health.