You’ve saved, planned, and waited for this day your whole life. You’re officially retired.
Gold watch in hand, you’re ready to relax with your grandkids, travel the world, or try out new activities…
So why don’t you have the energy to get off the sofa?
The surprising reason could be depression – and it may not feel like you expect…
Depression can hit those aged 65 and older harder than younger folks. Known as late-life depression, it affects at least 6 million seniors… and maybe far more, considering how few people receive a proper diagnosis or treatment.
What’s more, older folks rarely experience the stereotypical “sadness” that is a mainstay of depression depictions. Instead, you may have symptoms like reduced appetite, strange aches and pains, and insomnia.
It’s easy to shrug these off as signs of aging. So take a moment right now and ask yourself if you’ve noticed any of the following…
- Sadness or despair, including feeling hopeless or like you’re a burden on family members
- Unexplained aches and pains, slower movement or speech, or problems sleeping
- Weight loss or loss of appetite, memory problems, or trouble concentrating
- Lack of energy, loss of interest in hobbies, or neglecting meals, hygiene, and medications
- Not wanting to socialize
Chronic illnesses like diabetes and Parkinson’s can also cause depression, either directly or because of illness-related stress.
Talk to your doctor if any of the above symptoms last longer than two weeks. Come up with some non-medication based therapies first, like cognitive behavioral therapy, and monitor your progress.
As for drugs, I doubt that most antidepressants work. Doctors overprescribe them and patients take them for too long. And drug companies keep us in the dark about negative side effects.
For example, a few years ago, two reports – one from the New England Journal of Medicine – showed the drug companies buried the results of 74 studies conducted between 1987 and 2004 on 12 FDA-approved antidepressants.
All 74 studies showed the drugs did nothing more than a sugar pill. Worse… another 11 studies that showed negative results for the medications were published as evidence of the pills’ benefits.
In fact, depression can often be a side effect of certain medications.
It’s one of the reasons we encourage folks to keep track of their medications in a journal. Taking note of any and all side effects and results will help you and your doctor understand how well the drug works. That includes behavioral changes like those on the list above.
Medications known for causing depression symptoms include cholesterol drugs like Lipitor, heartburn and ulcer medications like Zantac, and blood-pressure drugs like clonidine. I’ve also written about how anti-anxiety meds known as benzodiazepines cause depression… Xanax and Valium are two of the most popular.
There’s plenty of reason to be concerned about depression. Not only does depression hurt our appetite and sleep, but for us older folks, depression hurts our hearts. Depression increases the risk of heart disease. And those with depression are more likely to die following a heart attack than those without.
Worse, for those 85 and older, depression often leads to suicide. Men 85 and over have a suicide rate six times higher than the rest of the population.
Depression is a real and treatable disease. And the good news is that folks who struggle with depression have ways to fight it without resorting to expensive and probably useless pills. I recommend the following ways to naturally alleviate symptoms of depression…
1) Get social. One method for combating depression seems counterintuitive… it’s called behavioral activation. The idea is to create a schedule for yourself that is easy to follow. Starting with smaller goals can help you feel more accomplished.
What’s more, it helps you socialize. A lot of depression results in isolation… and isolation also leads to depression. That’s why after retirement, you might find yourself depressed. Fill your days with other social events instead… try joining a gardening club, a bowling league, or volunteering for a local cause. If you find yourself wanting to break plans, ask a friend to help keep you accountable.
2) Meditate. Meditation helps fight depression by releasing the feel-good hormone serotonin. Other studies have shown meditation reduces insomnia, boosts the immune system, and even lowers blood pressure.
3) Exercise. Physical activity – even just a walk or a bit of time working in the garden – cuts the risk of depression in half. What’s more, if you already have depression, exercise helps stimulate brain chemicals like serotonin and endorphins. Just 22 minutes a day yields the best results.
Try these mood-lifters today and start fighting off depression before it becomes a problem.
What We’re Reading…
- Retirement Millionaire subscribers can read all about the huge Big Pharma misdirection on antidepressants right here. Non-subscribers can sign up for a no-risk trial right here.
- Understand the difference between depression and dementia.
- MedicineNet covers the medications that cause depression.
- Something different: The University of Mississippi found where the bodies are buried.
Here’s to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Retirement Millionaire Daily Research Team
May 9, 2017