Depression in older adults has reached epidemic proportions. And it is getting worse each year. I'm here to tell you there's hope…
Although depression in older adults is the topic of this page – because it is such a common problem, especially among seniors – the numbers I am giving you next relate to the population at large.
Prescriptions for antidepressants are filled by the hundreds of millions every year in the U.S.
Ten percent is the number of Americans (in 2012) that are suffering from all forms of depression. This figure is expected to increase annually by 20 percent.
Popping pills in unheard-of amounts while dramatically increasing the number of depressed Americans -- something is clearly NOT WORKING.
On their page on depression in older adults, the NIH's National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has this to say about depression in their introduction:
"Do you feel very tired, helpless and hopeless? Are you sad most of the time and take no pleasure in your family, friends, or hobbies? Are you having trouble working, sleeping, eating, and functioning? Have you felt this way for a long time?
If so, you may have depression."
Then they go on:
"Depression is a common problem among older adults, but it is not a normal part of aging."
Then they list different forms of depression and their symptoms, as well as how they are treated:
"The first step to getting appropriate treatment is to visit a doctor.
Medications called antidepressants can work well to treat depression. They can take several weeks to work. Antidepressants can have side effects including:
Most side effects lessen over time.
Psychotherapy can also help treat depression.
Electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) is sometimes used for severe depression that is very difficult to treat and does not respond to medication or therapy. Although ECT once had a bad reputation, it has greatly improved and can provide relief for people for whom other treatments have not worked. ECT may cause side effects such as confusion and memory loss."
NOWHERE on their page do they mention a HEALTHFUL DIET and/or EXERCISE!
Why? Because these remedies don't make Big Pharma or the medical profession, with their absurdly expensive devices, any money. That's why.
One of the best things you should and can do for your senior health – including your mental health - is to be active.
Multiple studies suggest that exercise – many forms of exercise, including walking - reduces symptoms of depression in older adults. It may help prevent depression as well as its recurrence.
And guess what? There are no bad and toxic side effects!
Do you really have to take psychiatric drugs?
In the late 1990s, Duke University conducted a study involving depressed patients.
They split them in three treatment groups:
Let me get right to the point –
After ten months of follow-up, it was the exercise-only group that had the highest rate of remission and well-being. What more evidence to you need?
Depression in older adults is serious business, because seniors often feel that they are not in control of their lives.
But exercise gives them back that control (body and mind).
It also is the first step to feeling they can take control of other events in their life. For example…
If you, dear senior reader, have issues with depression – by all means, talk to your doctor.
But make sure s/he is willing to acknowledge the benefits to you of both a healthful diet and physical exercise.
Quickly prescribing pills and treatments may not be the first or best line of action.
I am absolutely convinced that diet and exercise do more to alleviate depression in older adults than pills and shock treatments.
You deserve to heal – not just address symptoms.
It's not too late. It NEVER is. It's your life.
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