As you age beaware of these sneaky depression triggers

[i] An estimated 10–15% of older Australians who live in the community experience anxiety or depression (Haralambous et al. 2009). Generally, mental illness in older age people tends to be more chronic in nature (Rickwood 2005).

As we age the body can experience various chemical and physical changes, which can also include a deterioration in the mental health coping mechanisms. Depression triggers can be caused by the change of a relationship dynamic, a death of a family member or close friend, a decline of motivation levels, living in a residential aged care facility or experiencing a decrease interest in other social activities.

If a person is not able to cope up well and become overwhelmed with the unavoidable changes that occur simultaneously with ageing then chances are, you could begin to feel disconnected and become overawed with the challenges of becoming a senior citizen. Disruptive emotions that might simply start as frustration or sadness, can quickly develop into depression. Chronic depression can happen without you even realising it.

However, there are some signs that can act as a warning for this mental health condition which if you’re able to become aware of these sneaky depression triggers, you should be able to eliminate them or reduce their impact before any serious negative emotions and feelings take hold.

Some causes of depression in the elderly

  • Lowered Vitamin B12 levels

Vitamin B12 assists in healthy ageing. It plays a vital role in keeping you active and cheerful. The stomach acid acts on food to release sufficient Vitamin B12 for the healthy functioning of the body. However, a reduction in the stomach acid levels in the older population adversely hampers the production of this important vitamin leaving you feeling lethargic and depressed.

  • Feeling Socially Disconnected

Feeling socially disconnected and isolated is another notorious depression trigger. Going through retirement or dealing with the empty nest feeling when the children leave home can be especially hard for some people.

Try adopting a positive perspective and look at this ageing phase of life as an opportunity to rekindle the flame with your spouse or to reconnect with other family members and long-lost friends. Engage in different social activities and try various hobbies which you might have been continually putting off. If your gloominess persists over a couple of weeks, it’s best to discuss the issue with your doctor and or a qualified mental health care provider.

  • Poor Sleep Cycle

Reduced or poor sleep in the old age can not only cause fatigue but can also adversely affect your mood swings and if not kept in check can cause a feeling of depression. Disruptive sleep has been identified as a major factor responsible for causing depression in the ageing population. There are some obstructive sleep disorders such as insomnia and sleep apnoea that may develop during the old age.

If you experience trouble getting proper sleep, avoid consuming caffeine products and consult your doctor about the possible reasons and treatments.

  • Grief and Trauma

Grief is a normal response to the loss of a close relationship or person, but prolonged feelings of grief and trauma need to be addressed as it can lead to chronic depression. Grief related depression is common among the elderly as very often the underlying symptoms of depression are confused with the symptoms of grief. Thus, allowing grief to manifest into depression is a real concern for mental health care providers.

If you’re experiencing persistent sadness, you should consider seeing Depression Counselling Melbourne. A depression psychologist will work with you to help identify the core depression symptoms which are having a negative influence on how you manage your daily activities. By making an appointment with one of our Depression counsellors, they will be able to instruct you on the various approaches, strategies and treatments needed to achieve an outcome you deserve. Call us on 1300 967 734


About the editor, Dr Malcolm Winstanley-Cross

I am a Registered Psychologist with AHPRA’s Psychology Board of Australia and a Chartered Counselling Psychologist with the British Psychological Society, UK. My formal training began with a B.A. in Psychology and Welfare at Charles Sturt University, and B.A. (Hons) Psychology from the University of Wollongong. I then progressed to the M.A. (Hons) Clinical Psychology at the same university before moving to the UK to undertake a PhD in Psychology from City, University of London.

Find out more about Dr Malcolm Winstanley-Cross

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