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A Guide to Mental Wellness in Older Age: Recognizing and Overcoming Depression

Monitoring Your Symptoms of Depression

As you progress through your treatment for depression, it is important to self-monitor your progress and actively check how you are doing.

When your physician first talks about your diagnosis and treatment plan, it is important to have a thorough discussion of what you can expect from treatment and how you can actively participate in your recovery.

To track your treatment:

  • Keep a record of your medications and any side effects that you experience. You want to work with your physician to ensure that all of your symptoms are monitored, side effects are addressed, and your treatment is the best you can get.
  • Monitor your progress of positive health behaviors. Your lifestyle changes—exercise, diet, sleep, and alcohol use—all affect how effective your treatment for depression will be.
  • With the assistance of a counselor, relearn the way you think about your life. Every day, rate how you feel, from 1 being the lowest to 10 being the best.
  • Identify your negative thinking patterns. When people are depressed, they tend to think negatively about themselves, which may make the depression worse and slow recovery. Identify brief disappointments for what they are and don’t blame yourself. For example, if someone doesn’t like you—it is not because you did something wrong or there is something wrong with you. Try to improve negative thoughts with realistic statements of fact.
  • Keep a record of your progress, record how you feel, and plan and record activities that you do or plan to do.
  • Once you have recovered from depression, remain vigilant. Maintain regular check-ups with your primary care physician. At the first sign of depression, seek assistance immediately.

A 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 and Biobehavioral Sciences, University of California-Los Angeles, School of Medicine; Susan Lieff, M.D., M.Ed., Assistant Professor, Department of Psychiatry, University of Toronto; and Stephen J. Bartels, M.D., M.S., Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Dartmouth Medical School.

The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation grants permission to print, photocopy, and distribute this material. Please cite the Foundation, including the address, phone and website.