“The Dark Depression Cloud of Later Life”
By Bill Cottringer

“The aging process has you firmly in its grasp if you never get the urge to throw a snowball.” ~Doug Larson

Later life often brings a dark cloud of depression that can be very worrisome and quite difficult to deal with, alone or as a couple. This period of life can be especially difficult because it involves a lot of things that work against each other to make matters worse. There is physical and psychological discomfort from getting older, wrapped tightly in negative fearful emotions about unfamiliar realities ahead, especially the aging process, mortality and slipping skills you are most used to depending upon. And then the decreasing ability to cope in general makes the feelings and situation seem worse.

Here are seven ways to better manage later life’s dark cloud of depression when it comes your way as an unwelcome visitor:

1. Probably the most sensible and quickest way to keep this dark cloud of depression from consuming you and rendering you helpless is to stop and have an important reality check. You can do this by realizing and accepting the reality that you really can’t avoid or cure this problem, only manage it the best way you can, mostly with a positive attitude when you least feel like it. Feeling like there is something wrong with you because you are unable to get rid of the unwanted feelings or physical discomfort only makes it all worse and more impervious to moving away from you. When under this cloud try not to take it personal, as it is just an inevitable part of life for us all.

2. If you are alone, then you will need to find a person with whom you can communicate about the real sources of the depression—not feeling well physically, the ambivalence of retirement if that is an issue, financial worries, traffic driving difficulties, not seeing or hearing as well as you are used to, thoughts of impending mortality, discomfort with the aging process, etc. Of course if you are a couple, then you will need to communicate with each other about what one or both of you are going through. Talking out the unwanted thoughts and feelings always lightens their grip over you.

3. Do what you can to be responsible in getting regular physical checkups and prescribed medical treatments. Eat healthy, get rest when needed, exercise some way, deal with distress with relaxation, and resolve a commitment to living as healthy of a lifestyle as possible, given your situation.

4. Especially for couples: Make some effort to not annoy your partner with bad habits like temper tantrums, “addictions,” or other immature, unhealthy behavior. Bite your tongue by not saying things like, “You shouldn’t feel that way,” “It could always be worse,” or “You are bound to get better.”

5. Consciously decrease any unnecessary sources of annoyance or unhappiness, like avoiding overly pessimistic people, not doing household chores that someone else can do, not dwelling on conversations about health problems or dramas, staying away from unhealthy environments, getting rid of clutter and useless stuff, etc. On the flip side of this, make some effort to increase sources of joy and comfort with comfortable clothes and furniture, music and movies, being around friends, family and grandkids, eating out, taking little trips, expanding your fun hobbies, etc.

6. Gradually grow your compassion to help others feel better, as that always seems to change the way you feel for the better. An important reality in life is that you can always best help yourself by first helping others.

7. Openly explore your relationship with God and pray for the wisdom and courage to complete life to get a loud round applause from the angels at the finish. This is probably the best time to work on having a mature relationship with the creator and feel more comfortable about where you are going. Relinquishing control of the uncontrollables, can be a very uplifting response to later life’s dark cloud of depression.

If you are at this stage of life and this all makes sense, talk about the article with your partner, a friend or a professional helper. If you are younger, learn to spot this later life dark cloud of depression in another person and help the person apply these seven management strategies with compassion.

“Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don't mind, it doesn't matter.” ~Mark Twain.

Author's Bio: 

William Cottringer, Ph.D. is President of Puget Sound Security in Bellevue, WA., along with being a Sport Psychologist, Business Success Coach, Photographer and Writer living in the scenic mountains of North Bend. He is author of several business and self-development books, including his latest book “Reality Repair” coming shortly from Global Vision Press. Bill can be reached for comments or questions at (425) 454-5011 or ckuretdoc@comcast.net