Friday Flash Poll: Over-55s’ mood checker

We want to know if you’re happy, sad and what you’re doing about it.

While anxiety and depression are common ailments throughout the Australian population, older people are more likely to be more negatively affected by these conditions, considering the higher likelihood of contributing factors such as physical illness or personal loss.

Beyond Blue estimates that between 10 and 15 per cent of older people experience depression and about 10 per cent experience anxiety and for those living in residential aged-care it may be much higher, at around 35 per cent.

And yet, as common as these conditions are, many people over 65 still won’t talk about it. Be it through stoicism common to older generations or the perceived stigmas attached to such issues, many older people view anxiety and depression, or even mild sadness, as weaknesses or character flaws rather than a genuine health condition.

Often older people will ignore symptoms of depression and anxiety and only seek professional help when it manifests into serious health problems.

According to Beyond Blue: “Symptoms of anxiety in older people are sometimes not all that obvious as they often develop gradually and, given that we all experience some anxiety at some points in time, it can be hard to know how much is too much.”

So, what are the signs you need to look out for?

Behavioural symptoms of anxiety include avoiding objects or situations which cause anxiety, having to perform certain rituals in a bid to relieve anxiety, not being assertive, avoiding eye contact, difficulty making decisions and being easily startled.

You may also feel overwhelmed, fearful (particularly when confronted by some situations or events), worried about physical symptoms (such as an undiagnosed medical problem), constant dread that something bad is going to happen, constantly tense or nervous, or uncontrollable or overwhelming panic.

Always thinking things like “I’m going crazy”, “I’m about to die”, and “People are judging me” are also indicators of depression and anxiety.

So too are having upsetting dreams or flashbacks of a traumatic event, finding it difficult to stop worrying, or having incessant unwanted or intrusive thoughts.

Physical symptoms include an increased heart rate/racing heart, vomiting, nausea or pain in the stomach, muscle tension and pain, feeling detached from your physical self or surroundings, trouble sleeping, sweating, shaking, dizziness, feeling lightheaded or faint, numbness or tingling, and hot or cold flushes.

If you have ever experienced these symptoms for more than two weeks at a time, chances are, you have mild or severe anxiety.

Signs of depression are similar in many ways. Behavioural signs include:

  • lost interest or pleasure in usual activities
  • general slowing down or restlessness
  • neglect of responsibilities and self-care
  • withdrawing from family and friends
  • decline in day-to-day ability to function, being confused, worried and agitated
  • difficulty getting motivated in the morning
  • behaving out of character
  • denial of depressive feelings as a defence mechanism

Everyone may experience some of these symptoms from time to time and if you do, it may not necessarily mean that you are depressed. Equally as important to note is that not every person who is experiencing depression will have all of these symptoms.

Older people with depression are more likely to note symptoms from the physical category compared to the others.

Also, if you are indecisive, feel that you have lost of self-esteem, make negative comments such as “I'm a failure”, “It's my fault” or “Life is not worth living”, have excessive concerns about your financial situation, or have a perceived change of status within the family, you may wish to seek professional help.

According to Beyond Blue, feelings of depression include:

  • moodiness or irritability, which may present as angry or aggressive
  • sadness, hopelessness or emptiness
  • overwhelmed
  • feeling worthless or guilty.

And physical symptoms include:

  • sleeping more or less than usual
  • feeling tired all the time
  • slowed movement
  • memory problems
  • unexplained headaches, backache, pain or similar complaints
  • digestive upsets, nausea, changes in bowel habits
  • agitation, hand wringing, pacing
  • loss or change of appetite
  • significant weight loss (or gain).

Depression, while insidious enough, also increases the likelihood of developing dementia later on. It is estimated that depression affects one in five people with dementia.

YourLifeChoices wants to know how you feel. Are you happy? Or do you often feel sad or anxious? Why? Help us to help you with our Over-55’s mood checker.

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If you feel down, what do you do about it? Why not tell us how you tackle depression or anxiety? Or, if you have any suggestions for our members, why not leave them in the comments section below?

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    COMMENTS

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    Dobbo1
    14th Jun 2019
    10:49am
    My wife and I retired 5 years ago. We always have something to do, we are not bored, and we regularly travel, in our Motorhome in Australia, and flying overseas. We are not filthy rich, but we worked hard and made salary sacrifices, to set ourselves up for retirement.Life is good in our mid sixties!
    ray from Bondi
    14th Jun 2019
    3:02pm
    you are so lucky my depression started soon after I talked to the wife about my retirement plans and she let me know in no uncertain terms that she hated everything I said I would love to do, so now I have just spent 10 years doing nothing but watching tv and dreaming about what could have been which is a useless exercise ":(
    Rod63
    14th Jun 2019
    3:20pm
    "she hated everything I said I would love to do"

    You should have gone ahead and done them anyway. Look at the alternative you chose!
    tisme
    14th Jun 2019
    10:58am
    i have cared for so many for so long. now I need care and i find myself alone. The mental health system is a joke, all they do is talk they can see my issues but cant help. seems no one will /can, I am surprised the suicide rate is as low as it is judging by the pain and suffering that is out there
    Arvo
    14th Jun 2019
    12:30pm
    Depends on your situation but, there are support groups out there, you just need to make the effort to search for them.....search on Internet for your local support groups and reach out...There's always Home Care, once a week?
    Jezemeg8
    14th Jun 2019
    2:41pm
    Hi tisme, I hear you and understand fully what you mean about mental health services, which is why I'm glad I've got a good GP who will listen to me, hear my words, not merely assume I'm saying something which I'm not.
    I was forced into retirement over 20 years ago it was NOT what I wanted or needed at that time and it was in the very year that Universal Super covered the industry in which I worked, so my 'Golden Handshake' was a 'whopping' $1,000! As Work Cover kindly has deemed me to be too disabled to be safely employed there is no chance of me ever getting any job now. Home Care is unaffordable for me the co-payment required is over what remains of my pension after my rent/utilities and medications are paid for.
    Yet I consider myself fortunate because God has given me a ministry among the street folk and homeless in the suburbs surrounding my home, and a mobility scooter that enables my furry companions and myself to go out nightly to meet with our friends. My two constant companions keep me from feeling lonely and assist me with managing panic attacks.
    Please tisme, if you want to contact me via jezemeg8@gmail.com, I'll be happy to email you anytime to begin with and perhaps if we live near each other we can arrange a time to meet. Don't sit in your home alone, try to get out, perhaps you could foster a dog from a rescue shelter (that way they pay for the upkeep), it's amazing how having a dog with you seems to attract people to you and they stop to talk whereas when you're alone people tend to not even see you.
    TREBOR
    14th Jun 2019
    10:58am
    Bit hard to be depressed in this current Summer Winter masquerade, apart from lack of rain (we no longer rely totally on rainfall into tanks etc). Got whales to watch, minor renos to continue, and more time to myself since moving, and just waiting for the power company to come in for my solar system.

    Coffee's hot and fresh, my chair's comfortable, shift nearly finished - what's your problem Apollo Thirteen?

    Actually I have a lot of sympathy for those who are near housebound and have inadequate contact from family etc.
    OlderandWiser
    14th Jun 2019
    11:27am
    Life is good and it's what you make of it. Society these days puts untold pressure on everyone & the governments constant changing of rules, requirements, stripping us of our personal freedoms etc doesn't help.
    The western world can be summed up as, buying stuff we don't need, with money we don't have, to impress people we don't even like.
    Get rid of clutter, become a minimalist will also relieve stress for most.
    Smile., be happy & basically live for today as the older we get the less time we have on this planet.
    jackiet
    14th Jun 2019
    11:27am
    Son in palliative care with end stage pancreatic cancer; husband with dementia. It's not easy to find the good things in life, but thank goodness for the grandkids who always bring joy to my life.
    Jenny
    14th Jun 2019
    2:46pm
    My sympathy Jackie. I'm carer for my husband who also has worsening dementia and Parkinson's has well as progressive Parkinson's disease. I can't go out unless someone can babysit, and currently we are on the waiting list for an aged care package, which will take at least 12 months more to arrive. I am able to look forward to little a part from family visits which only can happen rarely as my children and grandchildren work all week and have their own lives to lead. Social isolation is my greatest concern.
    Tom Tank
    14th Jun 2019
    11:28am
    I have been retired now for 12 years and the secret to a happy retirement is to be busy with something constructive. It doesn't matter what it is as long as it provides satisfaction at the end of the day.
    Troubadour
    14th Jun 2019
    6:51pm
    Agree with you Tom Tank. We keep ourselves as busy as possible, volunteering and socialising with good friends. Looking after our grand-kids one day per week- and having the older grandkids over for dinner
    at least every fortnight.
    However I do realise that many do not have close family or are house-bound due to health issues - and feel for them and thank God that we are in a much better position.
    Tom Tank
    14th Jun 2019
    11:28am
    I have been retired now for 12 years and the secret to a happy retirement is to be busy with something constructive. It doesn't matter what it is as long as it provides satisfaction at the end of the day.
    OlderandWiser
    14th Jun 2019
    11:33am
    Life is good don't wait for tomorrow. If anyone needs any inspiration just look at the achievements of Kurt Fearnley, a truly inspiring Australian
    Charlie
    14th Jun 2019
    11:45am
    Plan activities when you are feeling good, so you will have something to do when feeling bad. Write things down.
    If you are no longer working get up early and walk, find an early coffee shop. If you don't have a dog to pat then pat somebody else's dog.
    GeorgeM
    14th Jun 2019
    11:52am
    Another rubbish poll, which may actually create / exacerbate depression by reading the article. There are so many other useful topics for possible polls as recently mentioned in response to another poll. What is YLC going to do with the information collected from this poll?
    Beyond Blue was previously Chaired by Jeff Kennett after he expanded the industry by creating 10s of thousands of depressed people in Victoria by retrenching such numbers of Govt staff. It was like making Dracula in charge of the blood bank which he created!
    JW
    14th Jun 2019
    10:04pm
    Can I just say, I have been enriched by the responses here. YLC has some amazing members who share such positive thoughts. Everyone has their challenges, but it’s about thinking how to turn the challenges into positives. There are always ways for those who are happy to look for them.
    Theo1943
    14th Jun 2019
    1:38pm
    I have a dislike of the word "happy". A word I prefer is Contented. I am content.
    OlderandWiser
    14th Jun 2019
    2:00pm
    I ran into the back of a dwarf’s car. He said "I'm not happy". I said, "which one are you then". Lol
    Foxy
    14th Jun 2019
    2:36pm
    Lolololololololololololol .....now that made me "smile" SFR ....... :-) :-)
    Chris B T
    14th Jun 2019
    2:17pm
    Not "Happy Jan" will be Replaced with Not "Happy ScoMo"
    I just Hope This Lot won't make the OAP/Part OAP any worse than what is Now.
    The ever Changing Criteria and Low Level of Benefit would make a Lot Despondent.
    The GFC took the wind out many "Sails" and not enough time to recover before Retiring.
    baza18
    14th Jun 2019
    2:26pm
    Dobbo1, no wonder you are happy,motorhome, able to travel overseas when you want, it's a matter of money for a lot of people what they can & can't do & I think that's what gets a lot of people, down me included.
    baza18
    14th Jun 2019
    2:29pm
    jackiet, must be very hard for you, yes the Grandkids bring a lot of joy, glad you have them to brighten your life a bit
    KB
    14th Jun 2019
    2:46pm
    Contributing factor for depression in older women is the menopause change of life due to hormonal changes tisme I have care d for a number of people and caring can wear you out emotionally. There must support groups out there. See your GP They might have some ideas
    sunnyOz
    14th Jun 2019
    3:27pm
    Rubbish! Menopause is mostly around 40's, 50's. Having worked in the medical field, I have rarely come across women going through menopause who suffer greatly from menopause to a state it is debilitating. This site is for over 55's - doubt there would be many that menopause would even rate as an issue.
    OlderandWiser
    14th Jun 2019
    3:36pm
    Contributing factor for depression in men is the menopause change of older women.
    Ardnaher
    14th Jun 2019
    6:28pm
    as someone who sailed through menopause...no HRT...just some herbal tablets...I feel great...I am 74 years of age and apart from the odd twinge of pain in my left hip when I sleep on it too long I have no health problems...having chosen parents with good genes does help :)
    KB
    14th Jun 2019
    2:46pm
    Contributing factor for depression in older women is the menopause change of life due to hormonal changes tisme I have care d for a number of people and caring can wear you out emotionally. There must support groups out there. See your GP They might have some ideas
    Poppy
    14th Jun 2019
    3:32pm
    Why won't anymore be depressed. IE im interstate get over 75 medical assessment notice, we won't be back nsw till September. So have to have medical assessment in Qld. Well I tell you it cost $130 cash. Plus I had touch toes, with right handextended close eyes than touch nose at same time touch my left knee with righ toe at same time than repeat with left arm and leg, lay on bacj raise right and than left leg. Test with cough for hernia, squat on haunches so my bottom was 2 inches off floor, than in that position waddle forward. Plus other exercises. Now I ask you how many drivers in Australia over 75 can do those exercises. So the question is was I victimised. Or was the Dr biased, or racist. However thats not the end, after passing a medical exam which was harder than when I joined the army reserves. I than have to delivery the test results to a RMS office in NSW how I ask? There is no postal return address so if your travelling interstate. Be careful, if your birthday in in summer months than your most likely ok. Now I phone the Medicalunit for RMS get people response. With same excuse over and over. I couldn't decide whether , I was talking to a Robot or a Parrot., my guess is their Boss wears an Eye Patch.
    Paddington
    14th Jun 2019
    3:58pm
    I feel depressed reading some of these. So sorry to the ones who are doing it especially hard.
    I am happy to not get up at the crack of dawn lol. That is crazy! I don’t want to pat dogs as I am allergic. I don’t believe in any god so not going there either lol.
    It is about you, not someone else. Everyone has different needs and wants. Do what makes you happy. If you are disabled look at what you can do to make yourself happy.
    If you are poor find things that are free that will help make you happy.
    Don’t blame your wife for your unhappiness either. She is only in charge of hers not yours.
    If you are going through heartbreaking times as some on here are obviously doing then reach out for help and get as much support as you possibly can.
    No one can tell another what to do because they are not you.
    Peace is what some want, excitement is others’ wants.
    I like not having to go to work, sleep in, do what I want when I want and know it is my right to do so.
    There are things I could wish for but they won’t happen so take them off the list.
    Do what you are able to make yourself as content as possible in the circumstances life has dealt you.
    JW
    14th Jun 2019
    10:09pm
    What wonderful sentiments. Totally with you Paddington.
    Ardnaher
    14th Jun 2019
    5:31pm
    have no complaints at all.
    rtrish
    14th Jun 2019
    6:27pm
    I live alone but am not bored or lonely. I have a good relationship with my family, and keep in touch with friends. However I always have some concern about health, as I have medical limitations. Also dental health, and how I will manage health and finances into the future. I also hope my rented housing is secure.
    Bigpop45
    18th Jun 2019
    1:20pm
    I love the winter - can't handle the hot WA summers, so very happy at the moment.
    Priscilla
    18th Jun 2019
    2:46pm
    It is very difficult to be happy with the government taxing people so heavily and making life extremely difficultl. How young people manage today is a mystery to me. Water charges are exorbitant with the charge for water being minimal the the services charges extremely high. The same goes for all services, electricity, gas, not to mention the very high cost of health insurance with little back. Depressed, you bet!


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