For many, the idea of retirement is a dream come true. Hanging up your uniform or logging off for the last time can’t come round quickly enough. But what happens when things don’t pan out how you imagine?
Unfortunately, some studies show that retirement can trigger depressive symptoms due to the drastic change in routine. Here’s how you can identify symptoms and take action to minimise this.
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What is Retirement Depression?
Retirement depression is a common mental health issue that affects older adults who have just retired or are in the process of phasing into retirement. It can be caused by a variety of factors, such as lifestyle changes, lack of purpose, and social isolation.
What Causes Retirement Depression?
A lot of people feel validated by their work and the fact that they are contributing in some way, so once this has been taken away from you, it can cause you to feel lost. Many feel like a useful members of society and take pride in the fact that they are providing for others.
The dynamics can change very quickly and particularly when comparing yourself to others, whether in your household or otherwise. Even the transition from being in an office to now being in the house all day can be tough. Over time, these new feelings can chip away and manifest into something serious, such as depression.
What Are the Symptoms of Retirement Depression?
Retirement depression can be a difficult issue to identify, as many of its symptoms may appear normal and could easily go unnoticed. It is important to recognize the signs of retirement depression in order to get the help needed before it becomes more serious.
Common symptoms of retirement depression are difficulty concentrating, lack of motivation or energy, irritability, feeling continuously low with little optimism or hope, and a lack of interest in activities that were once enjoyed.
You might also feel isolated and less inclined to reach out to loved ones or friends. As a result, some relationships can become compromised if there is a misunderstanding as to why someone’s behavior has changed.
Other signs to be aware of include an increase in physical complaints, such as headaches and back pain, and an inability to make decisions.
Depression during retirement can also be linked to financial stresses. Retirement often involves changes in lifestyle which may mean spending less money than before or trying to live on a fixed income. This can cause retirees to feel anxious and overwhelmed, leading to depression.
All of this can knock your confidence and lower your self-esteem. More physical symptoms include a lack of sleep, which in turn can lead to other health issues or exacerbate your symptoms.
How Can You Combat Retirement Depression?
With such a drastic change in lifestyle, it’s important to make sure certain areas of your life don’t become disorganized as a result. Maintaining your social life by seeing friends and family can help with this, as well as sticking to a good routine with plans in the calendar that you can look forward to.
Keeping your finances in order is another helpful thing to stay on top of. For example, some people in the later stages of life may look into equity release to retrieve tax-free funds from the value of their home.
If you’re still struggling, it may be beneficial to speak with a mental health professional.
Retirement depression can be an overwhelming experience, but it doesn’t have to be. By taking steps to manage your lifestyle and finances as well as talking through these issues with a qualified therapist, you can find ways to cope and enjoy this new stage of life.