A Guide to Mental Wellness in Older
Age: Recognizing and Overcoming Depression
Taking Care of Yourself
In addition to seeking professional
medical help, you can take additional steps to enhance
An important part of getting better is modifying some
of your lifestyle choices to promote healthier living.
There are steps that you can take to help you manage
your life and focus on the positive. Healthy lifestyles
not only improve your quality of life but are also
a strong disease prevention strategy.
If you have been
diagnosed with depression, ask for support
from a good friend or family member and tell
them how you feel. Ask them to listen to you and not
to judge or criticize. Keep names and phone numbers
of people that you can talk to and that can help you.
with those who have had similar experiences and feelings
can be very helpful because they will
understand how you feel.
Spend time with people you
enjoy and avoid people who are not supportive.
Pace yourself—do not expect to do everything
that you did before you had depression. Set a realistic
schedule. Ask a friend or family member to take over
some of the things that you need to do for a period
Think positively and try to avoid blaming yourself
or expecting failure. Identify areas of your life that
Identify problems in your life and list
problems that you think may have triggered the depression.
a strategy to deal with the problems. Discuss them
with family, friends, and your health care provider.
Develop a step-by-step action plan—but plan realistic
Identify pleasant activities and routines that
you enjoyed before you became depressed. Think about
activities as well as those you would like to do. Once
identified, start to return to that routine. Choose
one activity each week from the pleasant activity and
Avoid making major life decisions. If
you do need to make a major decision that will impact
your life, ask
a friend or family member for assistance.
Get exercise and spend time outdoors. Exercise and natural light
can be effective natural treatments for
Eat a healthy diet and limit your
intake of sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and salt.
will take time to get better.
Guide to Mental Wellness in Older Age: Recognizing
and Overcoming Depression
Geriatric Mental Health Foundation 2004
7910 Woodmont Avenue, Suite 1050
Bethesda, Maryland 20814
Expert assistance was provided by
Lissy F. Jarvik, M.D., Professor Emerita of Psychiatry
Sciences, University of California-Los Angeles, School
of Medicine; Susan Lieff, M.D., M.Ed., Assistant
Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of
Stephen J. Bartels, M.D., M.S., Associate Professor
of Psychiatry, Dartmouth Medical School.
Mental Health Foundation grants permission to print,
photocopy, and distribute this material.
Please cite the Foundation, including the address,
phone and website.