Where Do Broken Hearts Go? Combatting Depression During the Month of Love
It’s February. It’s the time of the year when we see hearts and roses around every corner. It’s great to be in love for Valentine’s Day, but for many seniors who are widowed or alone, this month can evoke a great deal of emotion, heartache and sometimes even feelings of depression. When it comes to mourning, time doesn’t always matter; it’s the memories of Valentines’ days past that can trigger pain and sadness.
So what if you are concerned that you might be one of those broken hearts? If you are feeling especially blue this time of year, here are a few tips to consider.
Acknowledge Your Feelings
Understand that it’s okay to feel lonely and don’t shrug it off as a bad time of year. If you are comfortable, share your feelings with someone who can validate you. It might be a family member, friends, someone at your church or whomever you trust. You might be surprised to find out that you are not alone and maybe you can help someone else through this time too.
Find Your Best Coping Mechanisms
To make yourself feel a little better, try to avoid triggers that may make you feel worse. You know yourself. If looking at old pictures and reminiscing might make you more upset, try to avoid it. Don’t drive by the restaurant you would always go to for dinner or watch a sappy movie. Make plans with friends or find something new to do that doesn’t focus on Valentine’s Day specifically. Make a concerted effort to keep your mind and body (see below) busy. And, find something that you can look forward to doing.
Get Active and Eat Well
Take a walk around the block, go to your senior center’s tai chi class or do some chair exercises. Studies show even the smallest amounts of exercise will release endorphins that trigger positive feelings. And whatever you do, don’t binge on chocolate or junk food. Although it may make you feel better at that very moment, chances are you will feel guilty soon after.
If the Feelings Don’t Go Away, Find Help
We all get in a funk once in a while. It’s no wonder now that the holidays are over and we’ve had such a miserably cold winter, but sometimes it is important to recognize that you may need more help. If your feelings continue, talk with your doctor. According to WebMD, late-life depression affects over 6 million older adults, but only about 10% receive treatment. Depression is not a natural part of aging and it can be improved with medications. Left untreated, it can lead to more chronic illness and a decreased quality of life.
Find Support 24/7 with The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
If you’re in crisis, there are options available to help you cope now. You can call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at any time to speak to someone and get support. They are a national network of local crisis centers that provides free and confidential emotional support to people in suicidal crisis or emotional distress 24 hours a day. Call 1-800-273-8255 or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org.