Sunday, October 3, 2010

How to avoid depression after retirement?

Retirement can spark depression

Although retirement might be a way to get rid of the stresses and strains of work, it seems that spending the golden years with a wife is not the recipe for joy either.

A study by Cornell University psychologists has found that retirement can spark marital discord and depression.  Jungmeen Kim and Phyllis Moen, who studied 534 married men and women between the ages of 50 and 74, found that men who retired while their wives were still working showed a higher level of marital stress then newly retired men whose wives did not work. The happiest men were the ones who found another job and whose wives were not working. "Those who are retired and reemployed report the highest morale and lowest depression," said Kim. Men who stay retired fare worst in terms of depression and low morale.


How to avoid depression in retirement

The fact is that after having worked most of their lives, people deserve the opportunity to retire. The question becomes how to retire and avoid feeling depressed?
  1. Spend more time with your spouse and plan how that time will be used. Adjusting to being together all the time can be difficult even for those with the best of marriages.
  2. Rehearse retirement by semi retiring and learning to how to spend your extra free time.
  3. See how it will feel to live elsewhere by renting space and vacationing in those areas.
  4. Speak to other retirees and learn where they live and how they spend their time.
  5. Either develop or return to previous interests and hobbies. These can be anything from hunting and fishing to stamp collecting.
  6. Engage in volunteer work that feels satisfying and fulfilling. Now that you have so much free time on your hands, you may want to give some of that time to those in need. Places that use volunteers on a regular basis include hospitals, homeless shelters, and churches. These places have volunteers participate in activities such as holding premature babies and serving meals.
  7. Travel. Use this time to travel to places you have never been. Book your trips as far in advance as possible in order to save money.
  8. Develop new friends and relationships through the volunteer work, new community, or new hobbies. You may want to try online socializing, which does not require you to be computer savvy. Some social sites include Twitter, Facebook, and MySpace. If the Internet is not for you, then join a community club like a billiards club or bowling league.
  9. Some people prefer to find part time work in order to feel useful.
  10. There are those who decide to develop their own businesses after working for someone else their entire lives. The Type A Personality is the individual who best enjoys a new business adventure.
  11. Have realistic expectations about retirement. Like most things in life, it is not as glamorous as some people believe, nor is it as awful as some may fear.
  12. Prepare for retirement by assessing the amount of money that will be available after leaving work.
  13. Learn to live on a smaller budget than you had before you left work.
  14. Perhaps, most important of all, it is necessary for retirees to be flexible in their thinking about themselves and what they would like to do. Retirement is a major life transition and, as such, a time to redefine one's role in society and in life.

Causes of Depression in the Elderly

But can we completely block depression, even following properly the recommendations, provided above? For someone, the answer would be yeas, for another – would be now. The different answers for different people come from the reality that the factors, causing depression for each individual, are very different as well.

Factors that cause of depression in the elderly include:
  • Physical
  • Psychological
  • Personality
  • Medications
It is common to feel depressed as we get older. Activities that do not include the elderly can lead them to having feelings of isolation.


The physical factors include:
  1. Family history of depression
  2. Chronic physical pain
  3. Chronic disease, such as cancer, arthritis, and diabetes
Psychological factors contributing to elderly depression include:
  • Loss of loved ones in the same age bracket, as well as a fear of their own mortality
  • Sons and daughters leaving the nest
  • Retiring from long term jobs
  • Moving to a smaller home, retirement community, or nursing home
Personality factors contributing to elderly depression include:
  • Some elderly persons have a difficult time becoming independent after the loss of a spouse when their personality was one of dependence.
  • Loss of self-confidence or self-esteem
  • Abuse of the elderly
Medication factors for elderly depression:
  • Zovirax, a medication used for the treatment herpes and shingles.
  • Alcohol abuse
  • Anticonvulsants such as Celontin and Zarontin for treating epilepsy
  • Central nervous system depressants that are used for insomnia, anxiety
  • Muscle relaxants,such as Benzodiazepine, Ativan, Dalman, Halcion, Klonopin, Librium, Valium and Xanax
Barbiturates such as phenobarbital and secobarbital

Parlodel a drug used for treating Parkinson's disease

Estrogens such as premarin, prempro, and fluoroquinolone

Antibiotics such as Cipro and Floxin and

Narcotics used to treat pain.

The list of the depression risk factors unfortunately is much longer, and the provided information can be considered as a small subset of the probable causes. If you want to get more detailed information on Clinical Depression, its diagnostics, and available treatment, you are welcome to visit my blog, totally dedicated to the topic: Clinical Depression: Symptoms and Treatment.

Although depression is not a usual factor in aging, it is different than what may be experienced in the rest of the population. As we get older, we experience more and more events that can predispose us to depression, such as financial difficulty, job loss, retirement, and issues of health. The elderly may suffer more losses due to having lived a longer life which can cause the onset of depression.

Depression, when left untreated, increases the risk of death in the elderly. It is considered abnormal to be up in age and to be sad. It is very important that when an elderly person appears to be depressed, to contact their physician for appropriate diagnosis and treatment.

"Depression is not a normal part of aging, “William Reichman, M.D., president of the American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry (AAGP) says. "While statistics indicate one in six elderly Americans are believed to suffer from depression, treatments available today are extremely effective. No older person should suffer alone with feelings that they are no longer valuable, that they no longer have anything to contribute."

Sources and Additional Information:


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