Doctors prescribe anti-depressants to help the brain stay "up" without getting high. In a way they are a modern miracle. But they are not the entire solution. Medications work for some people and not others. They can stop working. They have side effects and some can even make you feel dull. And they don't erase life's ups and downs.
"Anti-medications" - avoid alcohol and excess sugary drinks
What you put into your body contributes to your mood.
Research shows that people who regularly exercise, even a little, are less likely to be depressed.
Creativity and self expressive arts
Anything you create makes you feel a little better, doodling, drawing, gardening, writing. Journaling! Putting thoughts on paper has been proven to relieve depression.
Thinking more positive thoughts and fewer negative ones
One of the fundamentals of psychotherapy is teaching you how to think more positively about life and about your situation. Some of these are easily accessible through uplifting self-help or inspirational reading, and simply reminding yourself and others of the "bright side." (Careful though. Some people get turned off by positive thoughts!)
Having a purpose
In the 1950s, Viktor Frankl, in his book Man's Search for Meaning, said that the reason for depression at any age is a lack of purpose. One way you can help elders find purpose is the help them remember the values and purposefulness of their whole lives.
Beliefs can influence mood. Similar to the Twelve Steps belief in a "power higher than myself -
Talk therapy and healing from traumatic childhood
One thing that is very difficult to resolve are memories of trauma. These become part of our minds and make us feel more hopeless. Tackling these early issues can be daunting. One way to start is by trying to develop the narrative (write your story).
Bright light and seasonal depression
Medicine has a fancy name for the depression people feel in winter. (Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD) To counter balance it they prescribe specially designed lights that mimic daylight.
Social support (and even pets!)
Supportive human contact - friends, family, community. When practical caring for and being with a pet can help.
Home Instead offers free monthly newsletters with tips and advice for caregivers of elderly loved ones.
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