Menopause can bring out the worse in women. For many women, the age of 50 means the start of an inconvenient ride ahead. This period brings a host of changes in their body, the most notable of which is the end of their menstruation. Menopause also leads to changes in emotions and behavior. Episodes of mood swings may become more intense and, if not thoroughly addressed, could worsen into depression.

Aside from physical changes in a menopausal woman’s body, environment also plays a huge role in bringing out the blues. Nowadays, economic and environmental problems make the modern life gloomier. A combination of these two triggers could unleash depression.

But now that menopause is a thing of the past, are you still prone to depression? Doctors say a resounding yes, especially so if you take the symptoms of depression for granted.

Silent epidemic
Many people don’t know that they have already caught what many Americans call the “common cold” mental disease. Many of those who have depression have no idea that they have this. They assume that they are just going through a phase that will pass in hours or days only to realize later that their situation is getting worse.

Some cases of depression are also left undetected because of it carries with it a stigma attached to mental illness. Because of this mindset, many are reluctant to get medical help. Others misdiagnose depression for other diseases with similar symptoms such as thyroid problems, adrenal fatigue and other instances of hormone imbalance.

General symptoms
For adults in general depression has the following symptoms:
• Chronic sadness or "empty" mood.
• Feeling of hopelessness, helplessness, worthlessness, pessimism and guilt
• Illicit drug use
• Loss of drive to do your daily activities such as sex
• Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
• Irritability, crying more than usual, anxiety or panic attacks.
• Having trouble concentrating, remembering or making decisions
• Suicidal tendencies, having thoughts of suicide
• Chronic physical symptoms or pains that are not responsive to treatment

Depression in older adults
Depression is prevalent in older adults especially with serious health problems. According to a Mental Health America report, over two million Americans aged 65 and above suffer some form of depression. This condition is often triggered by other chronic diseases usually seen in the elderly such as heart disease, Alzheimer’s disease, cancer, Parkinson’s disease and arthritis.

Apart from the usual symptoms, watch out for the following signs as they can mean depression to older adults:

• More complaints of aches and pains in different body areas, tiredness, slowed movements and speech, changes in appetite that leads to either weight gain or loss
• Brain fog, inability to remember things or events or think logically. Extended sadness or apathy; withdrawal; and inability to find pleasure in anything.
• Intensified mood swings or constant complaining
• Feeling worthless and not needed excessive and unwarranted guilt
• Repeated doctor visits without relief in symptoms
• Too much alcohol intake
• Lessened amount of sleep
• Restless, agitated, hyperactivity
• Having racing, confused thoughts, gets easily distracted
• Faster and more talking or laughing
• Grandiose ideas and increased creativity
• Overly excited, euphoric, giddy, exhilarated
• Increased sex drive, possibly resulting in illicit sexual behaviors.
• Becoming impulsive, engaging in spending sprees
• Awkward social behavior
• Experiencing paranoia or delusions

Take note that the symptoms in older adults are different from those in other age groups. If you feel that you have any of these symptoms, consult your doctor at once.

Doctors stress that depression is not part of the aging process. With proper medical attention such as hormone therapy for women, experts say depression is treatable even during advanced age.

Make depression manageable
Constant monitoring by doctors is crucial for those who are suffering depression in older adults. But this condition can become tolerable by doing these tips:

Exercise. Aging is not an excuse to quit your exercise routine. Studies found out that physical activities may relieve depression just like, or even more effective than, antidepressants. Unlike taking medications, doing exercises has no harmful side-effects. And you don’t need to enroll in a fitness class or hit the gym. All you need is to add extra activities in your daily life. More walks in the park, more light housework, or even taking the stairs can lighten your mood.

Keep a healthy diet. Choosing the right foods is important to lighten your mood. One study links eating highly refined carbohydrates to increased risk of depression, especially in post-menopausal women. You also need to avoid taking in too much sugar and junk food that provide only empty calories. Choose to eat nutritious foods nourishment and energy and take multivitamin supplements as per your doctor’s advice.

Put your life in balance. Stress is normal in daily living. If you feel overwhelmed by the daily pressures of life, take the most needed breather. Engage in breathing, meditation and mindfulness exercises. You may also learn new skills in emotional management.

Sleep well and enough. Sleep helps the nervous system to function well. Without enough sleep, your depression symptoms may get worse. Try to sleep for 7 to 9 hours each night.

Make your life fun. Fill the room with laughs. You heard it right—laughter is indeed the best medicine for depression. Crack jokes with your loved ones; watch funny TV, movies or books. These will improve your mood.

Socialize with others face-to-face. Inspiring face-to-face conversations for emotional support is a big boost to your mood. Aside from providing you an outlet for your emotions, it will give others a chance to know your condition. You may also try to get new friends, especially with groups of people with the same interests.

Help others by volunteering. The best way to feel good is doing good to others. Volunteering your talents and efforts for the benefit of others is a great depression and stress reliever. Volunteering also allows you to broaden your social network.

Engage in hobbies. Try engaging in new hobbies that will occupy your mind and boost your creativity. Start cultivating a garden or doing adult coloring books that are gaining popularity. Pursue whatever hobbies that you love. Who knows you might follow the footsteps of Grandma Moses who started painting at the age of 78.

Own a pet. Studies show that playing with pets can provide calm and relaxation. Also, a pet could be a great companion for your daily walks.

Always remember that depression should never be a part of our lives. You have the power to dispel the blues by making the tips above part of your lifestyle toward a happier you.

Author's Bio: 

Anthony Chua is a freelance writer who contributes for and loves health, diet and fitness.