HomeHealthMental HealthDon't let depression ruin your retirement

Don’t let depression ruin your retirement

Your retirement years are meant to be the reward for a life of hard work. But many people are unprepared for the mental challenges that can come with stepping away from the rat race.

Retirement planning comes in many forms. There is, of course, the financial side of things that you’ve spent decades getting in order. You’ll soon be able to relax and enjoy the fruits of your years of labour.

But retirement can sometimes bring with it some unexpectedly unpleasant emotions. Instead of feeling finally free of the drudgery of the workplace, many people can feel lost without that structure, social contact and purpose.

On top of that, your health can start to decline in your later years. Your body begins to break down and cognitive abilities can decline.

As a result, depression is alarmingly common among older people. Figures from Beyond Blue show between 10 and 15 per cent of older Australians experience symptoms of depression regularly and around 10 per cent experience anxiety.

Among people living in residential aged care facilities, rates are believed to be much higher, sitting at around 35 per cent.

What is depression?

First, it helps to understand what depression actually is. It’s a complex condition with many different symptoms, that can present different in different people.

But there are some symptoms that present more than others, including not enjoying activities you usually do, feelings of hopelessness, irritability and anger or crying for no specific reason.

Many people also report a sense of guilt or worthlessness, difficulty concentrating, difficulty making decisions, changes in your appetite, sudden weight loss or gain, fatigue and body aches and changes in sleep patterns.

Stigma still holds many back

Making the problem worse, many older people are reluctant to seek help for any mental health related symptoms. They were raised in a time when admitting you were struggling was seen as a weakness, instead of a health issue.

Psychologist Claire Adams, PhD candidate at Edith Cowan University, conducted a study of 108 people over the age of 65 living with chronic disease and found that more than 40 per cent would be “unlikely to seek help for mental health conditions even if they needed it”.

Participants were asked about their attitudes and beliefs towards seeking help for mental health concerns, and information on whether they had engaged mental health services in the past, their overall quality of life and their physical and mental health.

The results showed 41 per cent of older adults with chronic disease did not intend to seek help for their mental health, even if they felt they should.

“One in seven Australians is aged over 65. But while we’re living longer, we’re not necessarily living better or happier,” Ms Adams said.

“While it’s encouraging that most participants (59 per cent) did say they would seek help if they needed it, a high proportion did not, which is concerning given our ageing population.”

The group was also asked how they thought society would view them seeking help for mental health, and whether that would influence their decision.

“If they believed that family and friends would not support them it was likely to prevent them from wanting to speak out about their mental health,” Ms Adams said.

How can you prevent depression in retirement?

While everyone will feel down sometimes, there are certainly steps you can take both before and after retirement to reduce your risk of developing depression symptoms.

Psychology service Choosing Therapy recommends a number of actions you can take to keep your mind and body active and your sense of purpose intact.

Transition to retirement gradually

Nobody says you have to leave your job entirely when you retire. For many, staying on with their employer in a part-time capacity is a way to reduce the stress in their lives while still feeling like they are contributing.

There are social benefits to keeping a part-time job in retirement as well, as many people find the sudden lack of social contact jarring.

Make a new routine

Leaving your job with absolutely zero plan for what you’re going to do after that is a recipe for disaster, even if you can afford it.

While it might seem great to wake up each day with nothing on your plate, a lot of people find this gets very old very quickly.

So, create your own schedule. Make plans with family and friends. Consider joining a club. Start a daily exercise routine. All of these things create a healthier lifestyle and promote more life satisfaction and increased happiness.

Consider volunteering

Studies have shown that people who volunteer in retirement higher levels of life satisfaction and feel a greater sense of psychological wellbeing. They also find it fulfilling meeting new people and learning new skills.

Have you found the transition to retirement challenging emotionally? Would you seek help if you needed it? Let us know in the comments section below.

Also read: When hoarding becomes a health problem and how to talk about it

Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Brad Lockyer
Brad Lockyerhttps://www.yourlifechoices.com.au/author/bradlockyer/
Brad has deep knowledge of retirement income, including Age Pension and other government entitlements, as well as health, money and lifestyle issues facing older Australians. Keen interests in current affairs, politics, sport and entertainment. Digital media professional with more than 10 years experience in the industry.


  1. Morning All
    I’m glad I read this topic as I can certainly relate to what can happen to us when we retire, I myself had to seek a clinical psychologist for help after being made redundant, as well as this I was placed on antidepressants and which I am still taking, I had been in the same job for over 40years and when you stop work abruptly it does take its toll, I initially joyed a volunteer group which involved physical outside duties for 3 days a week this I found did give me some sense of being productive however after a few months of this I took on some seasonal work which I found also very rewarding however this did not last long as I took ill and was transported to hospital via ambulance, without going any further into detail I feel there is a certain amount of responsibility for companies to offer people like myself some sort of support with maybe some part time employment or at least some sort of professional support within the companies health services group, I compare it with medication whereby you cannot go cold turkey you have to be taken off it slowly.

    Many Thanks Rocket

- Our Partners -


- Advertisment -


- Advertisment -

Log In

Forgot password?

Don't have an account? Register

Forgot password?

Enter your account data and we will send you a link to reset your password.

Your password reset link appears to be invalid or expired.

Log in

Privacy Policy

Add to Collection

No Collections

Here you'll find all collections you've created before.