Depression is so much more than feeling blue. Seniors who are experiencing feelings of depression can feel physical pain and discomfort, along with a decreased quality of life. If you are a senior who is dealing with depression or any other mental health concern, you do not have to live with this discomfort. Instead, you can take back control of your life by using these tips to find relief from your feelings of depression.
Medicare Can Help Seniors with Mental Health
Mental health issues are alarmingly common among seniors, but many seniors fail to address them. This may be due to the stigma around seeking counseling or it may be out of fear for the costs of mental health services. If you are a senior who uses Medicare, however, you should look into your plan’s counseling benefits; they come from Medicare Part B and offer help for seniors looking to seek therapy for depression or other mental health issues. Through Medicare, you have access to professionals, such as psychologists, social workers, and psychiatrists.
If you stick with basic Medicare, you still may be responsible for any additional therapy or mental health services your provider suggests. To offset those costs and get more benefits for yourself, look into Medicare Advantage plans that offer the same counseling coverages. With many of these plans, you also get additional coverage for things like prescription drugs and dental exams. Since depression and oral health can be so closely connected, having access to more dental care could help your symptoms.
When it is time to change or update your Medicare plan to one that includes the types of services you need, you can do so during the Open Enrollment Period. This starts October 15 and runs to December 7.
Social Connection Can Reduce Depression Symptoms
Aside from addressing physical wellness and dental health, seniors can also take steps to address isolation. All too often, older adults get cut off from the rest of the world. They may not have the social interactions with co-workers after retirement, and family members may move away, which can make those relationships more of a challenge. Those feelings of isolation can quickly evolve into depression or make existing depression worse for seniors.
Human beings need that social connection and support in order to maintain good mental health. We’re wired for that connection, so it makes sense to feel depressed when we lack those important interactions. If feelings of loneliness are starting to impact your life and mental health, you have to find ways to alleviate feelings of isolation. Think about joining an online support group to connect with like-minded individuals. If you are looking for simple ways to stay connected to loved ones who live far away, you can also use social media to maintain contact.
Untreated Depression Can Have Dire Consequences
Our society has a bad habit of not taking mental health seriously, especially when it comes to older adults. The fact is, however, that mental health issues can lead to serious physical and emotional health effects when they are left untreated. If you are dealing with depression, you are not only dealing with complicated feelings, but you are also living with damaging physical health impacts, such as chronic pain and digestive health problems.
Beyond your physical health, unmanaged depression can also lead to substance abuse issues or make current addictions more severe. It’s a cyclical relationship that often begins with poor mental health. Last, but certainly not least, depression is often tied to increased suicide risk among seniors. It’s one of the top predictors for suicidal thoughts and intentions for older adults, which makes treating depression even more important. If you are experiencing these thoughts yourself, you should seek help immediately, whether that’s by calling the National Suicide Prevention Hotline (800-273-8255) or taking a trip to the ER.
Dealing with depression can be difficult for older adults. But seeking out treatment is the only way you can get relief from those symptoms. Self-care can certainly help but taking care of your mental health requires much more. You have to come to view your mental health and your depression as you would any other pain or illness. You have to be willing to ask for help and get the care you need to feel better and get on with living your life.
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