How To Deal With Depression In Retirement | 15 Helpful Tips


If you feel depressed in retirement, you’re probably wondering how you can deal with depression? I wrote this comprehensive article to help you out.

Disclaimer/ Important Notice:
I am not a doctor. With this article, I want to be as helpful as possible to help you deal with your depression in retirement. The information and tips in this article come from online research and are based on my insight and experience. It’s not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice.

Contact your doctor for professional health advice.

When you’re living in the United States, You can also contact SAMSHA’s National Helpline via 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

I did extensive online research to write this article, and also share many of my own experiences. I have suffered multiple times from depression. And unfortunately, it runs in the family, so I know depression will occur to me more often than maybe someone else.

But I’ve come to terms that my brain is wired differently and produces more or fewer hormones than needed. And also, because I’m a critical person and a perfectionist, my mind is, by default, more negatively trained than positively.

For dealing with depression, I made a lot of mistakes. Luckily I learned from my mistakes, and I know more about what to do and how to deal with depression. And that’s why I want to help you out and give you 15 practical and hands-on tips in this article. So you can cope and recover from your depressive symptoms. These tips are a combination of behavioral and cognitive strategies that can help you deal with depression.

First, I’ll share 15 helpful tips on how you can deal with depression in retirement. At the end of the article, I’ll share more in-depth information about what depression is and which symptoms are common when you’re dealing with depression in retirement.

Thank you for supporting Retirement Tips and Tricks: Please note that some links in this article are affiliate links. When you make a purchase using these links, we may get a small commission, at no extra cost to you.

#1 Reach Out To Get Help

You need to reach out and explain to others what’s internally going on and how you feel. Without reaching out, you can’t get support. And you need support and help and feel the love from other people to make you feel a bit better.

They don’t have to be able to fix you but to be an active and compassionate listener. Sometimes getting things off your chest and talk about your feelings can help you feel more relieved. You can call someone, but it’s better to have face-to-face time with people.

Tips For Reaching Out:

  • Have lunch or grab coffee with a friend
  • Plan a fixed dinner evening with family
  • Call on an old friend
  • Go for regular walks with your neighbor
  • Connect with people with depression (groups) to share experiences and receive advice

It can be tough because if you reach out, that also means acknowledging the fact that you have a problem. Many people don’t even come to that first step. They don’t know or can’t accept the fact that they have depression.

And besides reaching out to get social support from family and friends, it also important to reach out to get professional support. When you’ve tried many things, and you aren’t feeling better, than it’s time to get professional help. Mild depressions can often be cured by consciously changing behavior. But severe depressions need professional attention. In some cases, medication is needed to get you out of your depression.

When you’re living in the United States, You can also contact SAMSHA’s National Helpline via 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

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#2 Exercise Regularly

Exercising has many benefits. If you exercise regularly, you strengthen your muscles, manage your weight, and reduce the risks for many diseases. So it increases your chances of living longer. But exercising also improves your mental health.

A study in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise reported that physical activity is a good way to curb depression and to prevent the emergence of depressive symptoms.

And according to Harvard Medical School: “Exercise reduces levels of the body’s stress hormones, such as adrenaline and cortisol. It also stimulates the production of endorphins, chemicals in the brain that is the body’s natural painkillers, and mood elevators.”

It’s clear that exercising reduces stress and symptoms of depression and anxiety, and it can help with your recovery from depression. So get out and get physically active every day or at least 3-4 times a week. And you’ll feel the difference and experience how powerful exercising for uplifting our mind is.

Tips For Exercising:

  • Swimming (in lake, ocean or nearby pool)
  • Hiking (in nature boosts your mind even more)
  • Running
  • Walking (dogs)
  • Yoga
  • Aqua aerobics
  • Tai Chi
  • Lift weights
  • Dancing
  • Get your bicycle out for a ride
  • Gardening

#3 Stay Active

When you’re depressed, you’re inactive. You do less and less over a stretch of time, and that can make the symptoms of depression even worse. To curb depression, you need to change your behavior. And that means that you have to do the opposite of what you’re doing right now. Even though you don’t feel like doing anything and would rather stay inactive. The solution to curbing depressive symptoms is to act against the depression and come into action.

When you were still working, your work-life came with routine and fixed activities. You need to replace those factors in retirement to enjoy your retired life. So that means you need to stay active: mentally, physically, and socially. Its the combination of these three that will help you become happier.

It doesn’t mean you need to go back to work because that’s the only solution. You can replace being active with other activities in retirement. But for some retirees, it does mean that they like to get a (part-time) job to stay active.

I’ve already given you tips on how to stay physically active above. And I’m going to dive more in-depth on how you can stay socially active later in this article. So the third one left is staying mentally active.

You need to challenge your mind to stay mentally healthy. If you keep your brain healthy, you prevent the risk of Alzheimer’s, and it also improves your memory, concentration, and general problem-solving. So include mentally challenging activities in your daily retirement schedule to become mentally fit.

Examples Of Staying Mentally Active:

  • Solve puzzles (sudoku, crossword, etc.)
  • Learn something new (skill, language, musical instrument)
  • Read an inspirational or informative book
  • Meditation
  • Start writing (family history book, novel, start a blog)
  • Listen to (positive) podcasts
  • Watch inspirational TEDTalks

You’ll find more information about staying mentally active in my article, How Can I Keep My Brain Active After Retirement.

Best Activity To Stay Mentally Active In Retirement

One of the best things you can do to stay mentally active in retirement is learning new skills. If you keep learning new skills, you keep challenging yourself. You can easier set new goals, which helps to deal with depression as well.

I’m really inspired by Masterclass. It’s an online platform where you can learn from the most successful and famous people in the world. You can find over 80 different courses and more than 1000 lessons on the Masterclass platform.

Some of the famous teachers are Martin Scorsese, Tony Hawk, Kelly Wearstler, Ron Finley, and many others. They all have courses in the disciplines they’re famous for. Start today with an inspiring course, and get your all-access pass for Masterclass here.

#4 Find Purpose In Life

The main purpose of working was to earn money, save money for retirement, pay the bills, and achieve goals. Every day was clear why you were going to work whether you enjoyed your job or not. Your life had a purpose, and you felt useful and worthy.

And maybe now, in retirement, you don’t feel like you have a purpose or direction in life anymore, and that makes you feel depressed. But don’t worry, let’s see how you can find purpose again.

You need to have a purpose or passion in life to have a sense of direction, that motivates you and gets you excited, waking up every morning. If you want to live a happy retirement and find fulfillment every day, then you need to find something that you’re passionate about.

You need this compass that guides you so you can set goals and make action plans in retirement. Which ultimately leads to feeling useful and worthy again.

Difference Between Purpose and Passion

People often mix up purpose and passion. Your purpose is something you live for, or maybe your goal in life. Your passion can be something you love to do. For example, you can be passionate about gardening, your purpose can be how to teach others the basics of gardening.

If you’re dealing with depression, you probably find it hard to be passionate about something right now. But there was a time you were passionate about things, and maybe something pops up in your mind right now. You just need to rekindle the love you had for that passion by coming into action.

And if you don’t know what that was, you need to do a little digging. And connect with your inner guide: your heart, intuition, and gut feeling. Sometimes your passion is that old hobby or interest you had as a child and dust it off again. And other times, you need to dig a little deeper and try out stuff. It’s a process where you have to think and analyze your mind while trying out things that will lead to discovering your true passion and purpose in life.

Ask yourself these questions:

  • What subject can I read 500 books about without feeling bored?
  • What did I love to do as a child?
  • Who inspires me?
  • What is the one thing I always wanted to do?
  • What drove me in the past?
  • What made me happy in the past?
  • How do I want to bring value to people’s lives?

Maybe your life purpose is helping others. Maybe it’s inspiring others, or maybe its something totally different than that. And if you don’t know the answer to one or more of these questions you can ask other people like your closest friends and family members. They probably have seen what made you happy in the past so they can refresh your memory.

As I mentioned earlier in this article, to fight depression, you need to move in the opposite direction and come into action. So you can also experiment in new activities to find out what your purpose in life is. And that means getting out of your comfort zone and try out new things.

Experiment examples:

  • Participate in your friend’s hobbies
  • Volunteer at a charity for a day
  • Try to visualize your perfect day
  • Sign up for a club
  • Sign up for a class you’re interested in
  • Create something new: According to successful writer Oliver Emberton: “When you create something new, you’re inventing something to be passionate about.

After you find your purpose, and often that doesn’t happen overnight, you can formulate and write down your Life Purpose Mission Statement. Reminding yourself of this life statement daily or weekly keeps you motivated, focused, and helps you prevent depressive symptoms in the future.

I’ll share more helpful tips in my article, How To Find Your Passion In Retirement.

#5 Stay Socially Active In Retirement

Socializing is an important activity in retirement that gets often overlooked. Many people are not aware of the enormous effect social connections have on people’s mental and physical health.

Multiple studies have shown that socializing has both physical and emotional health benefits. Being social can improve your brain health, it can boost your mental health, and positive social bonds can also lead to a stronger immune system.

Retirees who suffer from depression don’t make social activities a priority in life. The number one mistake retiring is decreasing your social time instead of expanding your social circle. Being social is one of the most important ingredients to living a happy retired life. And when you’re depressed, you retract yourself from daily life and the connection with others. Which only makes things worse.

If you want to recover from depression in retirement, it’s essential to have social connections daily. And here are a couple of ideas on what you can do to be social:

  • Schedule a weekly family dinner
  • Email or call an (old) friend
  • Organize a daily coffee routine with your neighbor or someone else
  • Apply for a (part-time) job – You can earn money, have a purpose in life, stay active, and be social all in one. Read more: The 50 Best Jobs For Retirees.
  • Do volunteer work – When you volunteer, you are doing something good, you’re social, and you help others. It’s is a very productive and quick way to feel better about yourself quickly because helping others makes you also happier at the end of the day. Check Volunteer.gov for volunteer jobs.
    Read more: Why Do Retirees Volunteer?
  • Travel – Start traveling to fuel your soul again with fresh energy. It’s the most adventurous way to stay active and also be social. When you travel you’ll meet a lot of new people from all walks of life and they can inspire you to look at life differently. This can decrease your depressive symptoms.
    Read more: How To Travel The World After Retirement: 45 Expert Travel Tips

If you want to learn more about staying socially active in retirement, I recommend reading my article, How Can I Stay Socially Active After Retirement?

#6 Rediscover Your Identity

When your sense of self was strongly tied up to what you did as a job, life in retirement is uncomfortable for you. You lost your identity and your value because you stopped working so you can feel lost. And therefore you need to rediscover who you are.

Rediscovering who you are (again) is trying out new things and getting out of your comfort zone. And that means doing things you’ve never done before or things you haven’t done for a while.

Getting out of your comfort zone helps you to:

  • be more productive,
  • It can stimulate your creativity,
  • It makes you more flexible when unexpected things happen in life.
  • Learning new things throughout your life also contributes to happiness.

If your looking for inspiration about fun things to do in retirement, I recommend reading my article, 101+ Ideas For Your Retirement Bucket List

#7 Create A Schedule

Another big reason why people fill lost in retirement is that they don’t have a routine and don’t have a schedule. The openness of having all the time in the world in retirement is exciting for many people, and for others, it’s scarier. They don’t know what to do with all this free time on their hands, and the next thing is that they waste their days with aimless and unfulfilled activities.

A routine and schedule are essential for a healthy life. People are creatures of habit, and routines offer us a way to promote health and wellness in our lives through structure and organization. Having a routine can significantly improve our health, and weekly scheduling activities are something for us to hold onto and look forward too.

Many people who don’t have any routine suffer from depression and stress. So an essential way to recover from depressive symptoms is to create a healthy routine and start planning regular activities.

I explain more about how you can create a routine in retirement in my article, How To Spend Your Day In Retirement: Step-by-Step Guide

#8 Set Goals In Retirement

Having a goal helps you to move forward in life, and it enables you to prioritize your time better, so goals in life are essential.

By setting a goal:

  • You move your life forward,
  • You push yourself out of your comfort zone,
  • You can make dreams reality,
  • You help believe in yourself,
  • You prioritize your time better,
  • You can live your retirement to the fullest.

When you’re depressed in retirement, you don’t want to start setting high goals for yourself. You have to take it easy on yourself and go for quick wins that will boost your confidence day after day.

So set a goal for each day for the rest of this week to help you get started. And continue doing this week after week.

Sometimes getting out of bed is the hardest thing to do when you’re depressed. But you need to set a goal for each day that is easy to reach but also motivates you and brings you into action. After accomplishing that goal each day, it makes you feel fulfilled and worthy. And that is necessary to build up your self-esteem.

As you move on, day after day, and week after week accomplishing goals, you will become more confident. And after feeling better and more confident, you can think about going after higher goals or dreams that you want to pursue. Maybe, you figured out your purpose in life so you can set goals in retirement that align with your passion.

The little goals in the beginning that maybe sound stupid can have an enormous effect. For example: walking the dog and making a healthy dinner every day are the ones that will help you move forward to bigger things in the future.

It takes daily small steps that lead to long-term results. And the easiest goals you can set for yourself every day is to get up out of bed at a specific time and make your bed. Within the first minutes of your day, you’ve already accomplished two goals. And that will help you be motivated to reach for other goals during the day.

#9 Get A Daily Dose Of Nature

Nature does wonders for our health. And here are a couple of free things nature can offer you when you feel depressed:

Sunlight

Low levels of serotonin are associated with a higher risk of major depression. And when you’re exposing yourself to sunlight, your body boosts your serotonin levels. And this hormone improves your mood and makes you feel calm and focused.

Also, your body produces vitamin D when you’re exposed to sunlight. No wonder it’s called the “sunshine vitamin” because it helps the body absorb calcium, which is essential for bone health.

Make sure to use sunscreen but take off your sunglasses while getting your daily dose of sunlight. The sunlight gives signals to particular areas in the retina (eye), which triggers the release of serotonin. But don’t look directly in the sun because that harms your eyes.

Experts from Healthline suggests that you need 5 to 15 minutes of sunlight on your arms, hands, and face two to three times a week. That is enough to enjoy the vitamin D-boosting benefits of the sun.

Tips For Getting Sunlight:

  • talk a walk every day around your neighborhood
  • kill two birds with one stone by exercising outside
  • go out gardening every day
  • Increase the amount of natural light in your home. Open up the blinds and drapes and sit near windows.
  • use light therapy in winter or less sunny area

Fresh Air

Also, fresh air can help you refresh your mind. And it helps digest food more effectively, improve blood pressure and heart rate, and strengthens your immune system, leading to a healthier you.

Ocean

Ever felt refreshed or energized after a jump in the ocean? Well, that’s because magnesium-rich seawater helps promote our body’s natural relaxation process leaving us feeling refreshed after each swim. It relaxes our muscles; it reduces stress and helps induce sleep.

Also, the unadulterated bacteria and iodine in the sea ease constipation and cleanses the gut, which is why it makes you feel more energized after a jump in the ocean. And the bacteria help improve our immune function, and the magnesium improves nutrient absorption in the body that results in better metabolic activity.

So jump in the ocean or take a salt bath regularly and it can help you feel much better.

The Wonders Of Being In Nature

Being in nature reduces anger, fear, and stress, and increases your mood. Nature will make you feel better emotionally. And it also contributes to your physical health: reducing blood pressure, heart rate, muscle tension, and the production of stress hormones. 

Negative ions are the key to well being. They strengthen the body’s immune system and stimulate the supply of oxygen to the brain, and activating the mind and the body as well as bringing more mental energy. Most negative ions (from 5,000 – 50,000 per cubic centimeter) are present in the mountains, at sea, and in forests. 

#10 Improve Your Sleep Hygiene

As I mentioned in this article is that a routine is essential to recover from depressive symptoms. And a healthy routine comes with improved sleep hygiene.

Maybe you can’t sleep very well, or your sleep is very restless and irregular. And to help you sleep better and feel more rested each morning, you need to improve your sleep hygiene.

The most important factor with sleep hygiene is that you need to stick to the same sleep and wake schedule. Because to keep your hormones in balance, you need to go to sleep at the same time every day and also get out of bed the same time every morning.

This routine is needed to create a healthy body rhythm. Because when you’re depressed, your rhythm is lost. So your body doesn’t know when to produce hormones to help fall asleep and when to produce hormones that help waking up. And with a fixed sleep routine, you send the right signals to your body to get into a healthy rhythm again.

Tips To Help You Sleep Better:

  • Clear your mind with meditation before you go to bed
  • Prepare tasks for the next morning to feel organized and have no worries
  • Tidy up your house because a clean home is a clear mind.
  • Avoid caffeine or alcohol before sleep
  • Minimize your time watching screens 1-hour before bed
  • set the right temperature in your bedroom
  • and make the bedroom as dark as possible.

#11 Limit Your Screen Time

Many retirees spend their days watching TV or aimlessly scrolling the internet. And spending hours watching a screen doesn’t make you feel better about yourself. So you want to limit your screen time as much as possible because you didn’t work so hard in life to waste your days in retirement like that.

If you love a show, then don’t be afraid to watch that show in retirement. But be aware that watching TV doesn’t become an aimless activity for many hours a day because you feel like you don’t have anything else to do. Then it’s an unhealthy habit.

Also, spending a lot of time on social media is very tricky. Social media is a wrong reflection of the reality of life. Everything seems perfect on social media. So it’s easy to start comparing your life to other people’s unrealistic life. It takes a strong mind not to compare yourself to others, and that feeling of unworthy can sneak up on you very quickly this way.

#12 Have A Healthy Diet

If you want to feel better, you need to eat better because what you eat impacts directly how you feel. For that, you need to reduce the foods that affect your brain and mood. You want to avoid or limit the following: caffeine, alcohol, trans fats, sugar, and foods with high levels of chemical preservatives or hormones (such as certain meats).

Tips For Eating Healthy:

  • Limit sugar, and too many carbs – Too much sugar or high fatty carb meals lead to energy and mood crashes.
  • Eat regularly – Between 3 – 6 times a day. So don’t skip meals because you can feel irritated and tired.
  • Don’t eat your feelings – Many people reach for food when they feel bad. They seek comfort in food, but that isn’t a healthy approach to comfort yourself. You want to challenge negative thinking by creating a positive mindset. 
  • Boost your vitamin B levels – with foods like citrus fruit, leafy greens, beans, chicken, and eggs.
  • Stabilize your mind with Omega 3 – in fish oil supplements or eating fatty fish

Also, the use of turmeric can influence the balance of neurotransmitters in the brain. Studies have shown that turmeric can reduce anxiety and depression. Check out more information about the benefits of turmeric.

And check out this article if you want inspiration and recipes that improve your mood.

#13 Create A Positive Mindset

Creating a positive mindset is crucial to overcome your depression and to prevent depressive symptoms in the future.

In depression, you have a negative outlook on life, yourself, and the world around you. Let’s say you’re perfect at negative thinking. That’s your default modus right now. So to turn that around, you need to train yourself in positive thinking.

See the mind as a muscle. If you want to have bigger biceps, you need to train every day in the gym to become stronger and see it grow slowly. Well, the brain works the same way. It’s also a muscle.

And you have powerful “negative muscles” in your mind right now. You paved so many roads within your brain that (always) ended up in negative thoughts.

To change that, you need to train new muscles that aren’t strong yet and create new paved routes that lead to positive thinking. And to be able to create a positive mindset is to train the mind consciously every day until it becomes unconscious behavior. And this can take months. Some experts say that creating a new habit takes between 30 – 60 days of daily repetition before it becomes an autopilot mode.

Tips To Create A Positive Mindset:

  • Start the day with positive affirmation in the mirror – Say something kind to yourself in the mirror every day. For example, I like you, I love you, You’re strong, You’re beautiful or You are enough are powerful affirmations. Even though you don’t believe it now, you have to say these things every day. Because after saying it more often, you start believing it and act upon it.
  • Focus on the good things even though there are small – And if you caught yourself with focusing on something negative. Replace that one thought with at least two positive thoughts.
  • Find humor in everything – Even when something bad happens. Find the fun in it to turn the energy around.
  • See your failures as lessons – Each time you think you failed, then come up with at least two lessons you can learn from it. The most successful people failed over and over again. The ones that learned from their mistakes are the ones that succeeded. 
  • Be in the present – People who worry are stressed or depressed and are not living in the present. They live in the past or future. Because they have bad thoughts and feelings about things in the past or feel anxious about what might happen in the future. To remind yourself of staying present, you can practice mindfulness. With meditation and focusing on the breath, you can remind yourself to live in the present. Headspace is one of the best-guided meditation apps that makes meditation very easy and accessible for everyone.
  • Surround yourself with positive people – You can’t create a positive mindset if there always people with negative thinking around you. So be selective about who you invite into your life and surround yourself with because it can affect your mood greatly.

You need to be very aware and conscious of the thoughts in your mind because negative thoughts harm you. Have you ever experimented with boiled rice in a jar? Well, I advise you to do it because then you can visibly see how much harm negative energy can affect something or someone. And then you’ll see how much effect your negative thinking is harming you as well.

How To Do The Rice Experiment:

  • Boil a batch of rice and distribute the rice into two jars.
  • On one jar you put a note with loving words as “I love you.”
  • And on the other jar, you put a note with negative words like for example “I don’t like you” or even stronger words
  • In the next 30 days, you approach these jars differently very day. You yell negative things to the jar with the negative note. And you treat the jar with the positive note with love, care, and respect and say nice things too.
  • After 30 days you will see that the positive jar of rice is still in good shape, and the rice in the other jar is rotten.

Your energy approach changes the chemistry of the rice. And the same works for your body. It’s made of 70% of water, so you influence your own chemistry every day as well with your thoughts and energy. If you don’t believe it? Try it!

#14 Do Fun Things

Doing fun things is an easy tip, you might think. You probably have come up with it yourself as well. But the reason that I mentioned this explicitly is that in depression you retract yourself from all the activities you normally would enjoy. And it really helps to improve your mood if you’re pushing yourself to do all fun things again and become active instead of staying inactive.

I recommend reading my article, How Can I Fun In Retirement, for more inspiration.

#15 Take Responsibility

In depression, you’re in a victim role. You feel sorry about yourself. But staying in a victim role doesn’t help you recover from depression. Because as a victim, you feel like you don’t have control over your life, and that makes you feel hopeless.

To retake control of your life, you need to be aware that you need to get out of the victim role. And take on the responsibility to turn your life around. Your perception becomes your reality.

Seeing this pattern and actively switching my mindset from victim to being responsible for my actions, has played a massive role in how I deal with depressive symptoms. When you feel depressed, you actively have to say to yourself: “It doesn’t help me to feel sorry for myself, so what can I do right now to make me happier?” For me, it’s: helping others, exercising, take a dive in the ocean, meet a friend, etc.

Create Personal Instruction Guide

Maybe one or multiple of these tips help you out to fight your depression. And when you notice feeling better, you can start writing down what you did that have improved your mood and mindset. Write down the thoughts and feelings and what actions made you feel better. By doing this, you’re creating your personalized instructions guide to avoid and prevent depression in the future.

Sometimes you just need a little reminder of what helped in the past to help you through today. And what better way to help you then the instruction guide you created yourself.

Disclaimer/ Important Notice:
I am not a doctor. With this article, I want to be as helpful as possible to help you deal with your depression in retirement. The information and tips in this article come from online research and are based on my insight and experience. It’s not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice.

Contact your doctor for professional health advice.

When you’re living in the United States, You can also contact SAMSHA’s National Helpline via 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

Retirement And Depression

The idea of retirement that most people have is that it’s all fun and games. They imagine that retirement is the time where they only do the things they love to do and always wanted to. Unfortunately, the reality is different.

Studies show that the chances of getting a depression increase by about 40% after retiring. Retirees are likely to report feeling symptoms of depression twice as likely as to people who are working.

So if you think you’re the only one. You’re not. Depression in retirement is unfortunately very common, but because there is a stigma on mental health issues, not a lot of people talk about it. Or are afraid to seek help.

But it’s not only people in retirement that suffer from depression. One in three people will experience a depressive period at some point in their lives. While most cases of depression stay mild, about one in ten people will have a moderate or severe episode of depression. It’s one of the most common mental disorders in the United States.

I don’t want to make you more depressed by explaining to you these numbers. But it’s good to know that a lot of people suffer from depression and you’re not alone in this fight.

What Is Depression?

Depression is a mental disorder characterized by persistently depressed mood or sadness feeling, loss of interest in (enjoyable) activities, and low motivation, which considerably affects daily life.

Depression affects how you feel, think, and behave and can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems.

What causes depression?

Depression is a complex disease, and until this point, nobody really knows what causes it. But there are a variety of reasons why depression can occur in your life.

Depression can be caused by physical illness, medications, conflict, death or loss, substance abuse, major life events, and your genetics. 

About 50% of the predisposition for depression is due to genetic influences, according to Stanford Medicine. So if this runs in your family, you can even experience depression and feel overwhelmed with sadness and loneliness for no known reason.

A person’s personality characteristics are also an important factor. Why do some retirees transition smoothly into retirement, and others struggle a bit more and feel depressed? Well, everyone is different. 

Someone else can have a more positive mindset on life compared to you. He or she always sees the glass half full, whereas you are maybe more critical and see the glass half empty more often.

That doesn’t mean you’re a negative person. You’re just wired (in your brain) differently. But luckily, you can train the mind and pave new roads in the mind that lead to more positive thoughts. Later in this article, I explain how you can create a positive mindset.

Also, a disbalance in hormones can lead to depression. More and more researchers are learning that the fluctuation of hormones plays an important role in the development of depression. And because women have a monthly menstrual cycle involving fluctuating hormones, they are twice as likely to be diagnosed with depression.

How it works is that the brain manages hormonal changes, and the hormones act upon the brain, including the parts of the brain underlying emotional behavior. According to psychiatrist David Silbersweig.

Causes Of Depression In Retirement

Most retirees suffer from depression in retirement because the transition from working life to a life filled with leisure is more difficult than anticipated. They prepared there a financial plan for retirement, but they didn’t plan on how they want to spend their time in retirement.

Work-life gave them a purpose in life, social connections, a steady routine, and a feeling of being useful and worthy. All this goes away in retirement. And if you’re not prepared to replace those factors with new ones, depression can sneak up on you.

Another cause of depression in retirement is, is that many people identify themselves with their job. In western society, what you do is more important than who you are as a person. So if you don’t have a job and your sense of self was tied up to that job strongly, you can feel lost in retirement. You don’t know who you are and what your value is, and that can lead to depression.

Also, changing dynamics at home can be a reason for depression in retirement. Your role is changing. You’re at home more often, and that can feel uncomfortable and can also cause conflicts with your spouse or family members. For that, you all need time to adjust to the new situation.

One of the other major factors for depression in retirement is that people have anxiety about their finances. And don’t know how to make ends meet in retirement. And this constant stress and hopelessness can lead to feeling overwhelmed and depressed. 

Being prepared for your new life in retirement is essential to avoid depression in retirement.

Depression Symptoms

Depression isn’t limited to just feeling “sad.” The symptoms can vary and are both emotional and physical. Also, depression can make it difficult to do normal daily activities and also has a negative impact on different areas of functioning.

Psychological Symptoms:

  • Feeling miserable, frequent crying, feelings of hopelessness, and worthlessness. These feelings are present most of the day but can vary in its intensity. And it lasts for weeks or months.
  • Loss of interest in (enjoyable) activities.
  • Slowed or inefficient thinking. This leads to difficulties in concentration, sorting out problems, and having trouble with making plans and decisions.
  • Recurring negative thoughts. Particularly about being guilty and being a bad and unworthy person.
  • Thoughts that you would be better off dead or thoughts about harming yourself in some way.

Physical Symptoms:

  • Loss of appetite and changing eating patterns. Including significant weight loss or gain.
  • Lower libido.
  • Loss of energy, even when you’re not physically active.
  • Loss of sleep despite feeling exhausted. Sleep is typically restless and unsatisfying. With early morning wakening (one to two hours earlier than usual) or sleep a lot more than usual.
  • Inactivity.

Disclaimer/ Important Notice:
I am not a doctor. With this article, I want to be as helpful as possible to help you deal with your depression in retirement. The information and tips in this article come from online research and are based on my insight and experience. It’s not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice.

Contact your doctor for professional health advice.

When you’re living in the United States, You can also contact SAMSHA’s National Helpline via 1-800-662-HELP (4357)

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Kirsten Veldman

I'm Kirsten. In 2017, my boyfriend Léon, and I decided to retire from the rat race to travel the world and work and live location independently. With my articles, I want to help people enjoy and celebrate retirement in the best way possible.

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