Social interaction, support can help battle depression

Published 7:00 am Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Depression can strike at any moment, either due to a chemical imbalance or a certain scenario that brings sorrow. However, the disorder is often predominant in older adults for multiple reasons.
To share the best, natural ways to counter depression, Dr. Anwant Chawla, M.D., A.B.S.M. medical director at The Grove at Highland Community Hospital spoke with senior citizens at The Senior Center of South Pearl River County.
“The world can be divided into two groups, where one percent of the population is psychotic and 99 percent neurotic. Among the neurotics, which is all of us, the number one illness is depression,” Chawla said.
He said depression can be detected from the following signs and symptoms such as a person feeling down, empty, getting older, polypharmacy or the use of multiple drugs, thoughts of suicide, poor sleep and being lonely.
Senior citizens are most vulnerable to depression, Chawla said, in part due to the numerous medicines they take.
“Every single medicine has its fair share of side effects. If someone takes more than five prescribed pills, they can very well be exposed to symptoms of depression due to the different chemicals that person is putting in their body,” he said.
In order to counter depression or make sure it never occurs, Chawla suggested a three-step method: prescription therapy, counseling and a healthy social network.
Prescription medicine should never be the only way to fight depression, Chawla said.
“If a doctor just hands you a prescription and expects that alone to cure the disorder, he is not a good doctor. People need to change their thought process, which is where the other parts come into play,” he said.
Once someone has the proper medication, Chawla can help change a person’s thought process through simple therapy or counseling and bring a positive outlook on life.
“Once someone’s thinking changes, their mood will change and that is something I know medicine cannot accomplish alone,” Chawla said.
The final step is to have a healthy social network of friends and family. These nourishing relationships help keep morale high.
Spending more time with people in their social network can help senior citizens clear the mind, Chawla said.
In many cases, seniors spend a majority of the day alone, which can be a symptom of depression. However, at the Senior Center, the attendees learn a valuable lesson about camaraderie.
“Some seniors spend a lot of time alone at home, but having Dr. Chawla come speak to us about how to detect the symptoms of depression and how to solve it without a heavy dose of medicine is great for us seniors. It gives us reason to help one another out if we do see someone depressed,” Senior Center attendee Linda Albert said.
Anyone aware of a member of the family or a friend experiencing difficulty with mood, awareness or other mental obstacles, should refer them to The Grove, which specializes in the unique needs of seniors. It is located on the third floor of Highland Community Hospital. For more information about The Grove, call 601-358-9881.

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