You’ve noticed that in the last few years, you haven’t quite felt like yourself. You are irritable, sad, and feel flat about things that used to make you excited. Knowing some common triggers of depression when you are over 40 can help you keep tabs on your mental health.
As we get older, life changes in some amazing, positive ways. We often find that we understand ourselves better and accept ourselves more. We have more perspective that allows us to see situations in calmer, broader terms. We know what our priorities are, and what we want out of our relationships.
However, aging isn’t without its challenges. One study found that midlife depression for people in the US peaked for women around age 40, and for men around age 50. Understanding common depression triggers for those over 40 can help you know when you might need some extra support.
1. Sleep Troubles
Ongoing hormonal changes as we age often results in sleep disturbances. You may find yourself feeling less rested, more prone to waking up in the middle of the night, and struggling to fall asleep at bedtime. Insomnia is both a symptom and a contributing factor to depression, and so if you are in a prolonged period of poor sleep, don’t take it lightly.
Improving your sleep environment and the habits you have around sleeping can make a significant difference in your ability to both fall asleep and stay asleep. In severe cases, a doctor may prescribe medication in order to help you rest.
Depression and diabetes share an interesting link; people with either Type 1 or 2 diabetes have a higher risk of developing depression, and people with depression have a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The exact causes behind this link aren’t fully understood, but it may be related to the stress and health challenges of managing diabetes, as well as unhealthy lifestyle choices that can be a product of depression.
If you have diabetes or depression, it’s important to develop a holistic treatment plan that includes medical treatment, therapy, and regular wellness practices to help mitigate potential risks.
There are many reasons why our relationship with alcohol can become unhealthy as we age over 40. Physical changes may cause our body or mind to react differently to alcohol, with more acute hangovers and feelings of depression or “hangxiety” after drinking. Life events like relationships changes, losing friends or loved ones, or retirement can also spur people to drink more than is healthy.
Being aware of your drinking habits, and being honest with yourself about how it is affecting your overall mood and outlook, is critical in warding off drinking-related depression.
While not having to go into the office every day might feel amazing at first, it’s not uncommon for people to feel a bit adrift as they adjust their daily schedule and sense of purpose to expand outside of one previously dictated by the workplace. If you are feeling aimless and depressed after retirement, therapy can help examine those feelings and re-establish a sense of direction and purpose.
Finding new activities to participate in—from fitness classes, to volunteer opportunities, to interesting hobbies—can also help bring a sense of excitement and energy while allowing you to connect with new social circles.
5. Vitamin B12 Deficiency
Vitamin B12, found in animal products as well as fortified cereals or plant-based milks, is critical for the function and development of brain and nerve cells. Changes in the level of stomach acid that occur when we are over 40 can decrease our ability to break down vitamin B12 from what we eat, and can contribute to depression.
If you are concerned about your B12 levels, a blood test can reveal if you are deficient, and a doctor can help you determine how best to supplement this essential vitamin.
6. Overwhelming Responsibilities
As we age over 40, we can find ourselves increasingly pulled between family and professional responsibilities. This is a stage where you may find yourself shouldering the burden of raising children and taking care of aging parents, the pressures of which may feel overwhelming and trigger feelings of depression.
Talking to a therapist can provide a healthy and constructive outlet for stress, as well as begin a process of sorting out how to share some of these burdens.
Whether you’ve been through a divorce, lost a partner, had children move out, or are suddenly finding yourself questioning if you are satisfied being single, feelings of loneliness can creep up on us as we age. Retirement can also feed into loneliness, particularly if your social circles were largely work-based. Loneliness can lead to depression, and so finding ways to reconnect is important.
Work on connecting with long-distance family and friends online, and seek out activities where you have a chance to meet new people. If feelings of loneliness haven’t eased over time, talk to a mental health professional for more insights on what to do next.
8. Physical Pain
While aches and pains aren’t a guarantee with aging, most of us will experience at least some physical changes as we age over 40. Chronic pain, or a sudden reduction in regular activity due to injury, is a significant risk factor for depression. If you are dealing with regular pain, or are recovering from an injury, it’s important to be tracking your mental health along with your physical wellbeing. Depression can also result in consistent bouts of unexplained pain such as headaches or backaches, and so talking with a doctor is important in getting the right kind of care for chronic pain.
Losing a partner or a close family member can spark waves of intense grief that can last for some time. If this feeling persists for months, with little relief or an inability to feel happiness, then this may be a sign that grief has transformed into depression. Seeking professional treatment is essential in effectively processing your emotions and moving beyond grief.
10. Heart Troubles
Like any serious health issue, having heart disease or recovering from a heart attack or heart surgery can make you feel scared and depressed as you take in the diagnosis and heal from treatment. However, some people with heart disease will also experience severe, long-term depression. Having depression itself is also linked to a higher rate of heart disease. Getting support, either in terms of a support group, a therapist, or as part of your rehabilitation, can help alleviate feelings of depression.
Treating Depression at The Dawn Rehab Thailand
The Dawn Wellness Centre and Rehab is a mental health retreat in Thailand that fosters an environment of personal growth and healing for people who want to change their lives and overcome addiction or mental health issues.
Internationally accredited by the American Accreditation Commission International (AACI), The Dawn offers a program for depression rehab in Thailand with tailor-made plans that cater to each individual’s needs by using a comprehensive, holistic treatment method and modern techniques with proven results.
Depression Retreat in Thailand
Our centre is conveniently located just outside the beautiful city of Chiang Mai, Thailand, a one-hour flight from the country’s capital of Bangkok. At our tranquil riverfront property, surrounded by picturesque rice fields and traditional Thai villages, you are completely removed from your triggers—the people, places and things that contribute to your condition—and immersed in a safe and soothing environment.
Call The Dawn today to learn more about how we can help you overcome your depression and live a happier, healthier life.