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Depression Can Affect Brain Health

Posted by Elder Health Plans, March 22, 2019

We all know that depression can lead to a reduced quality of life, and could even contribute to health problems such as weight gain. But now, new research indicates another important concern. A new study from the University of Miami has discovered a correlation between depression and increased risk of stroke.

A long-term (fourteen-year) study found that older adults who suffered from depression at the beginning of the study period were 75 percent more likely to experience an ischemic stroke. An ischemic stroke is one of the two main types of stroke (hemorrhagic is the other). With an ischemic stroke, a blood flow blockage results in damage to the brain.

The study’s author was careful to clarify that this correlation does not necessarily indicate that depression causes stroke. But since the two are highly related, it’s an area of study that warrants more investigation.

Depression is common in retirees, for many reasons. Sometimes, the end of a career leads to emptiness or boredom. Loneliness can play a part as well; the absence of a work routine, or the illness of a spouse, can contribute to isolation.

Whether or not depression actually causes strokes, or they’re merely related in some other way, taking care of your mental health is essential. As you transition into retirement, remember to have a plan for your days; simply stopping work isn’t usually as enjoyable as people had imagined! Create some structure in your life, plan for activities outside the home, and include some social time with friends or family.

In addition, the following tips can prevent depression:

  • Exercise regularly
  • Eat a well-balanced, nutritious diet, avoiding excess sugar
  • Identify sources of stress and create strategies to address it
  • Get regular, quality sleep each night
  • Avoid alcohol and drugs
  • Report symptoms of depression to your doctor – sometimes depression is a side effect of certain medications

And of course, remember to seek help if you ever feel that you need it. Trained mental health professionals can help you identify the source(s) of your feelings, and guide you toward developing solutions.

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