It’s important to examine possible reasons for depression and how to counter them because this illness that occurs in 7% of the general older population. Surprisingly, depression doesn’t necessarily mean feeling sad. In fact, many depressed seniors will tell you that they don’t feel sad at all. Instead, they complain of low motivation, a lack of energy and trouble sleeping. They also feel irritated. Depression doesn’t have to be part of aging.
Low Vitamin B12
Low vitamin B12 levels will make you feel lethargic or depressed. Older people are more likely to have low levels because they may not have enough stomach acid to release B12 from food. Monitor the levels of B12 in your blood. If it’s low you can take supplements or change your diet to include more fish, meat, poultry, eggs, milk products, and fortified breakfast cereals.
Sometimes, depression is related to changes that occur in the brain and body as a person ages. Some older adults suffer from restricted blood flow. This condition is called ischemia. Over time, blood vessels may stiffen and prevent blood from flowing normally to the body’s organs, including the brain. When this happens you can develop vascular depression. If you have vascular depression, you may also be at risk for heart disease and stroke.
If your thyroid is out of whack, you may start to feel depressed. This happens both when the thyroid is underactive or overactive. If you have an overactive thyroid, you could feel heart palpitations, tremors, or fatigue. An underactive thyroid can cause constipation or fatigue. Your doctor can recommend the right course of treatment.
Living with a condition that causes chronic pain, such as rheumatoid arthritis or osteoarthritis, increases the chance of developing depression. In fact, people with chronic pain are three times as likely to have depression or an anxiety disorder. Keep in mind that depression can make pain worse. Try to exercise, meditate, or listen to music to ease your symptoms.
Insomnia in America is so bad that nine million Americans take prescription drugs to help them fall asleep. Lack of sleep can be caused by anxiety, stress, and also depression. If you have trouble sleeping, you are in danger of slipping into a negative cycle where lack of sleep leads to higher levels of anxiety, stress and depression. Good sleep habits can help you get the shuteye you need. Try setting regular bedtime hours, exercising regularly, taking a warm bath just before you slip between the covers, and keeping your bedroom dark. Avoid caffeine, alcohol, or nicotine, which interfere with sleep.