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6 ways to combat depression

Learn a new hobby, spend time with friends or make new ones by going out more to church, senior centers or parks. Talking to people helps fight loneliness, which can lead to depression.

Depression should not be an accepted part of growing older; however, about 20 percent of people 55 and older experience this most common of mental health issues. The good news is 80 percent of these cases are treatable.

Knowing the signs of depression is the first step in recognizing it in a loved one or yourself. Depression is a long-term condition that can last for weeks at a time.

Some signs include:

• feelings of hopelessness or guilt

• anxiety

• restlessness or insomnia

• disinterest in old hobbies or activities

• fatigue

• decreased concentration and decision-making skills

• overeating or loss of appetite

• suicidal thoughts

• physical ailments such as headaches, cramps, digestive problems and aches that do not improve, even with treatment

Ways you can immediately begin to help yourself include:

1. Be active and exercise. Go to a public event or enjoy an activity.

2. Set realistic goals for yourself and break up large tasks into smaller ones.

3. Try to spend time with a friend or a relative. Let a trusted one help you.

4. Understand that depression isn’t something that immediately disappears, but know your mood will gradually improve.

5. Try to put off important decisions such as marriage, divorce or job changes until you feel better.

6. Study depression and its effects.

Although you might recognize signs of depression in yourself or a loved one, knowing what to do next can be challenging. Experts agree the first step is to seek professional help as soon as possible.

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