Emotional wellness is critical to overall health. Seniors who feel sad, lonely, or suffer from anxiety or depression are finding relief by simply discussing these symptoms with their healthcare provider.
You may think your primary care doctor only focuses on your physical health, but that is not the case. Today’s primary care provider supports your emotional health.
Healthy aging involves identifying what is most important to us, making the best of what we have and getting support to handle the rest. But when this goes awry, we can start to feel down or blue. We worry about the future and even feel hopeless.
Anxiety and depression are the most common mental health conditions for older adults. Contrary to popular belief, these conditions are not a part of normal aging. Mental health conditions can be difficult to distinguish in older adults, as they often appear to be physical symptoms (like pain, fatigue, nausea, irritability) instead of sadness or crying.
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There are many things that can be done to improve emotional wellness. The tips below can help:
1. Identify When Emotional Health Issues Become a Problem
Depression is not part of the normal aging process. It’s true we all experience some sadness or worry as part of normal everyday life. But if sadness lasts more than a few days or weeks, having a significant impact on you, seek help. Warning signs of depression include:
- Pulling away from friends, family and others in your community
- Becoming irritable or having noticeable changes in behavior
- Stopping necessary responsibilities in or outside the home
2. Talk to Your Provider
Share with a doctor what you have been experiencing. Ask specifically about ways of addressing emotional wellness or mental health concerns. Discuss the risks and benefits of different types of treatments. Discuss how emotional health relates to other health conditions.
3. Know Your Options
There are multiple options to help with emotional wellness. These include counseling or therapy, medicine, exercise or connecting with more enjoyable and meaningful activities. Your primary care provider can help you decide which option is right for you.