Depression and the Winter Months

Everyone gets the blues now and then, but the winter months are particularly difficult for many seniors for a variety of reasons. If your aging loved one is suffering from depression, psychotherapy and medication can help, but first, here are some things you can try to improve your loved one’s mood.

Exercise
Cold and inclement weather makes getting out and about difficult in the winter, but exercise can help alleviate feelings of depression, according to Harvard Medical School. Encourage your loved one to move around during the day, whether it’s doing yoga with a video tape or walking at the mall.

De-Stress
For many, the holidays mean stress, and the effects of stress can lead to feelings of depression. If finances are a problem for your loved one during the holidays, consider a White Elephant gift exchange or let her know that presents are unnecessary. If she’s feeling stressed, encourage her to meditate, exercise, and breathe deeply. These are proven to reduce stress hormone levels as well as condition the body to respond more effectively to stress.

Eat Healthy Food
A poor diet leads to low energy levels and has a detrimental effect on mood. Make sure your loved one is eating a healthy diet that includes whole grains, lean proteins, and lots of fruits and vegetables.

Get Out and About
Feelings of isolation are common among seniors in the winter, and this can contribute to depression. If your loved one lives alone, make plans to get him out of the house a couple of times a week, whether it’s a lunch date or running errands. Encourage him to get involved with a local community center or social organization for seniors.

When to Get Help
If your loved one’s mood is affecting her quality of life and doesn’t seem to be improving, have a chat with her doctor. A number of medications on the market can correct the function of brain chemicals to help alleviate depression and restore her good mood.