Recently I read a statistic about depression that surprised me. I had not been aware that 17% of people in the US are on anti-depressant medication. That means approximately one in 7 adults is relying on some help from medication to get through the day. I have no idea how many of these people are in their second half of life. It does indicate that a good number of people are turning to their doctors for help with symptoms of overwhelm and sadness for which anti-depressants provide relief.
Anti-depressant medications have made a big difference for people who struggle with biological depression. It has given many people the opportunity to function successfully in their lives. My focus in this article is on the people who are depressed because of the life situation they find themselves in. These are the people for whom anti-depressants indeed provide help but unless they take care of the underlying concerns their life situation will not improve.
For instance, anyone who is living in a home where there is addiction present - alcohol, drug, prescription drug- will feel oppressed by its presence. The longer the addiction continues the greater the effect will be on everyone. The addicted person will also suffer with depression because that is the effect of the substance. In both cases if the underlying problem of addiction is s not addressed the symptom of depression will manifest itself .
Relationships organize people. Anyone who has ever been in a job situation that is negative will feel helpless. Likewise couple relationships where one cannot freely be oneself can become stifling and lead to depression. Again, in both of these examples anti-depressions will give relief but they will not take care of the underlying problems. In order to address them there has to be a willingness to start grappling with how to change the situation that is upsetting.
I have found, in addition, to the two examples just mentioned, that in the second half of life people may become depressed because some medications for physical problems have depression as a side effect. There is one other area that I see frequently. When lives have become routine and there is no newness people feel bored and become lethargic. The answer to this state of depression is to start doing new things. Take a course, move to a new area, read to kids,open a business, walk regularly, meditate - anything that will interrupt the monotonous and introduce vitality and excitement. I have found that the people who introduce newness into their lives have, after a while, been able to go off anti-depressants because their new zest in life has naturally lifted their spirits.