Do you have feelings of helplessness and hopelessness? Have you lost interest in the hobbies you used to enjoy? Is it getting difficult to get through each day? If so, you’re not alone. It could be that you are depressed.

Depression can happen to any of us as we age, regardless of your financial stability, background, or accomplishments. Symptoms of depression can affect every aspect of your life, impacting your energy, appetite, sleep, and interest in work, hobbies, and relationships.

Unfortunately, many older adults fail to recognize the symptoms of depression, or don’t take the steps to get the help they need. There are many reasons why depression in older adults is so often overlooked:

• You may assume that depression is just part of aging.

• You may be isolated, which can lead to depression, with few around to notice your distress.

• You may not realize that your physical complaints are signs of depression.

• You may be reluctant to talk about your feelings or ask for help.

According to the National Institute on Aging, depression isn’t an inevitable part of getting older. It’s also not a sign of weakness or a character flaw. While it is inevitable that life changes as you age (retirement, the death of loved ones, and declining health), these changes can sometimes trigger depression. The good news is, they don’t have to drag you down. No matter what challenges you face as you age, there are steps you can take to feel happy and hopeful once again and maximize your well-being as you age.

Knowing the signs and symptoms of depression red flags is important and may include:

• Sadness or feelings of despair

• Unexplained or aggravated aches and pains

• Loss of interest in socializing or hobbies

• Weight loss or loss of appetite

• Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness

• Lack of motivation and energy

• Sleep disturbances (difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, oversleeping, or daytime sleepiness)

• Loss of self-worth (worries about being a burden, feelings of worthlessness or self-loathing)

• Slowed movement or speech

• Increased use of alcohol or other drugs

• Fixation on death; thoughts of suicide

• Memory problems

• Neglecting personal care (skipping meals, forgetting meds, neglecting personal hygiene)

There is help out there!

Depression is a highly treatable illness, with psychotherapy, coping and cognitive-behavioral techniques, and medication. If you think you may have depression, start by making an appointment to see your primary care doctor or a healthcare provider who specializes in diagnosing and treating behavioral health conditions such as a psychologist or psychiatrist.

For a list of area healthcare providers (including therapists, counselors, and behavioral health specialists), visit:

• Connect Green Valley at: connectgv.org and click on the Emotional/Behavioral button for a list of providers including Posada Life Community Services Behavioral Health.

• You can also visit the Green Valley Council (GVC) website at gvcouncil.org and click on the GV Medical Directory for a list of medical and behavioral health providers.

• The Green Valley News publishes a yearly Green Valley Health Directory listing local health services in Green Valley, Sahuarita, as well as many services in Tucson. The GV Health Directory can be picked up at the Green Valley News office, at the Green Valley-Sahuarita Chamber of Commerce, Friends in Deed, and in many medical offices and social service agencies in the area.

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