Lots of things are just "part of getting older"...
As we age, most of us expect our hearing and eyesight to get worse, our muscles to weaken, and our memories to not be as good as they once were.
And when most of us start experiencing these problems, the place we go for a solution is to our doctors. That's because we think our doctors will help us when we're in need...
But according to one study, when it comes to having depression and suicidal thoughts, primary care doctors may be less willing to treat older patients compared with younger patients. That's because doctors believe these thoughts to be normal in older folks and that psychiatric interventions won't help.
This is false.
Depression is not just a normal part of getting older, and interventions do help.
And as it turns out, depression is common in the U.S...
According to a 2023 Gallup poll, 29% of adults in the U.S. have been diagnosed with depression at some point in their lives. And that figure has grown from 21% of U.S. adults in 2017.
There are different types of depression, such as:
- Major depression – feeling a loss of interest or a depressed mood for the majority of your day, lasting for at least two weeks.
- Persistent depressive disorder – having less severe symptoms than folks with major depression, which last for at least two years.
- Seasonal affective disorder – experiencing depression during the fall and winter.
And as we wrote recently, many folks who retire experience a form of depression known as the "retirement blues."
But a new study shows that you may be able to reduce your risk of developing depression with some simple steps...
An international team of researchers from the Universities of Fudan (in China), New South Wales (in Australia), and Cambridge (in England) identified seven behaviors that are associated with a decreased risk of developing depression.
The research team used data from the UK Biobank (a biomedical research database), which included the lifestyle characteristics of nearly 300,000 people with and without depression. They also looked at people's biological data – including brain scans, blood cells, and genetic factors – to establish a causal relationship between lifestyle behaviors and depression risk.
Here's what they found:
- Having a healthy diet – as opposed to an unhealthy diet – decreased a person's risk of depression by 6%.
- Engaging in moderate alcohol consumption – as opposed to consuming an unhealthy amount of alcohol – decreased a person's risk of depression by 11%.
- Having a low-to-moderate amount of sedentary behavior – as opposed to having a high amount of sedentary behavior – decreased a person's risk of depression by 13%.
- Engaging in regular physical activity – as opposed to an unhealthy amount of physical activity – decreased a person's risk of depression by 14%.
- Having frequent social connection – as opposed to infrequent social connection – decreased a person's risk of depression by 18%.
- Having never smoked – as opposed to being a current or former smoker – decreased a person's risk of depression by 20%.
- Having healthy sleep – as opposed to unhealthy sleep – decreased a person's risk of depression by 22%.
The researchers also determined that folks who presented two, three, or four of these healthy lifestyle factors had – on average – a 41% lower risk of depression, compared with folks who presented one or none of these factors. And folks with five, six, or all of these healthy lifestyle factors had – on average – a 57% lower risk of depression, compared with folks who presented one or none of these factors.
So when it comes to our health, everyone – depressed or not – should be taking these seven habits seriously.
Do what I do... Longtime readers know I enjoy eating like a Mediterranean, moving my body for at least 20 minutes every day, and creating a sleep sanctuary in my bedroom.
Depression is serious, and you don't have to fix it on your own. Never hesitate to seek out professional help. There is no shame in getting the help you need.
And you can help yourself too, by practicing good, healthy habits.
What We're Reading...
- Did you miss it? Retirement is killing retirees.
- Something different: The Beatles' last song… with help from AI.
Here's to our health, wealth, and a great retirement,
Dr. David Eifrig and the Health & Wealth Bulletin Research Team
November 7, 2023