Being worried, low or out of sorts aren’t just part and parcel of getting older – they’re important signs that you’re not feeling as well as you should be.
Our mental health affects how we think and feel, and how we cope with life’s ups and downs. As we move through different stages of life and our circumstances change, our mental health can change too.
We’ve all faced a lot of challenges this year. You may have found your own ways of coping, but it’s also natural to feel overwhelmed by it all. If things are starting to get on top of you, you don’t need to try and cope alone. There is support out there that can help.
Feeling down isn’t a natural part of ageing. Low mood, depression and anxiety don’t just become a feature of life as you get older– they’re signs that you’re not feeling as well as you could be.
If you’re feeling down, lacking in energy, or have lost pleasure in the things you used to enjoy, talking can help. Speak to your GP about how you are feeling.
What can I do if I’m not feeling myself?
If you’re feeling out of sorts and have any of these symptoms for two weeks or more, you may be
experiencing anxiety or depression:
- loss of self-confidence and feeling down
- feeling anxious
- not being able to enjoy the things you usually enjoy
- unexplained aches and pains
- avoiding people, even those close to you
If you have any of these symptoms frequently, speak to your doctor and explain how you’re feeling. Together you can agree on what next steps may be best for you.
Because of coronavirus, you might be worried about bothering your GP or going into the surgery – but how you’re feeling mentally and emotionally is still a priority. Support is available and can be given over the phone too.
Even though it can be difficult to admit you’re feeling low, a chat with your doctor or nurse is an important place to start. If you’re feeling nervous about talking to your doctor, it’s fine to ask someone to go with you to your appointment. It might not seem like it right now but talking really does help.
What can affect my mental wellbeing?
There are plenty of reasons why you might be feeling like you do. But there also may be no clear reason at all – and that’s fine too.
But thinking about some of the most common things that can affect how we all feel might help you understand the feelings you’re experiencing and think about the steps you can take. Most people experience these things throughout their lives, though it can sometimes feel like they happen more often as we get older. But it’s important to remember, it’s not just your age.
Over the last few months, we’ve all been worried about their physical health and that of those they care about most. But staying at home, feeling lonely or isolated, the anxiety of either catching or spreading the virus and the worry of looking after yourself and those you care about can have an impact on how we feel mentally too. And that’s perfectly natural – in fact 1 in 3 older people are feeling more anxious than they were before the pandemic. There are things you can do to help look after yourself mentally and there’s support available to you. If you’re finding it hard, it’s important to talk to your GP. You don’t need to cope alone.
Many of us look forward to retirement. But often we can be so busy thinking about what we’re retiring from that we don’t take time to think about what we’re retiring to. For many people the lack of routine and sense of purpose can impact their mental health.
Grieving is different for everyone and, for many, can last a long time. This process can be a rollercoaster of emotions and you’re likely to have good days and bad days. It’s normal to experience a variety of different feelings such as sadness, anger, frustration or even relief. If you’re struggling to cope with the bad days, then it may be time to seek help and support.
Being a carer
Looking after your loved one is rewarding, but it can also be exhausting and even frustrating at times. It can feel like it takes over our lives and can affect how we feel mentally. It can be hard to ask for support as a carer, as you might feel guilty because you think you should only be focused on the person you’re caring for – but you shouldn’t neglect your own needs. It’s OK to reach out and admit it’s all getting a bit much.
Worrying about money can lead to sleepless nights and make us anxious. If you’re having money worries or are living on a low income, why not use a benefits calculator to see if you’re eligible for any benefits? If you’re worried about debt, you’re not alone and there is help available. It’s never too early to seek help for money worries.
Disability or poor physical health
As we get older, poor health can affect our confidence, make us less independent and make us feel more anxious. It can become harder to get out and do the things we once enjoyed, which can be very frustrating and get us down. Side effects of certain medications can also have an impact on our feelings. Make sure you don’t stop taking any medication before speaking to your doctor as it can be dangerous to stop suddenly.
Relationship and family problems
Worrying about those we care about most can really affect how we feel. They may be experiencing one of these issues themselves, or you might be worrying about things that could happen in the future. If possible, try to talk about any problems before they have a chance to escalate. If you feel like you can’t talk or relate to family and friends, consider speaking to your doctor instead.
Drinking too much could leave you feeling out of sorts. It can often lead to feelings of low mood and anxiety. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a glass of wine or a dram of whisky every now and then – just try to do it in moderation.
The time of year
It’s not uncommon for our mood to change with the seasons. Many of us feel better in the summer and feel low in the colder, darker winter months. You may commonly hear this referred to as the ‘winter blues’, but for some people, the different seasons can have a significant impact on their mental wellbeing and leave them feeling tired, withdrawn and depressed or anxious.
(Original article published 16th June 2022 on www.ageuk.org.uk)