Are You Struggling To Feel And Function Well?
Have you been feeling down, sad or despondent for at least a few months? Do you consistently feel tired, less interested in social activities, or heavy with a sense of hopelessness and helplessness? Do you feel more irritable and moody? Have friends, family members or caregivers expressed concerns about a shift in your outlook and behavior? Are you increasingly anxious about health concerns, finances or end-of-life fears? Are you struggling to work through feelings of grief caused by the passing of friends and/or a declining ability to easily perform daily tasks and engage in the activities you once loved? Do you wish you could find more meaning and joy in your life and feel like your old self again?
Living with mood disorders, like depression and bipolar disorder, can be an isolating, lonely and melancholy experience. You may have struggled with mental health issues throughout your life, or symptoms may have recently developed due to grief, an increased dependency on others, an illness, or uncertainties about how, where and with who you will live the rest of your life. Medical conditions and living with pain can also aggravate symptoms, as can having to rely on others to help you manage tasks. A deep sense of hopelessness and helplessness may have set in, causing you to wonder if there is any meaning or value left in your life.
You Are Not Alone
Mood disorders in seniors is very common. Chronic illnesses, loss of mobility, loss of loved ones, and loss of their bodies and lives as they have known them can cause depressive symptoms. Many seniors deal with these issues and can become irritable, withdrawn or deeply sad. If symptoms persist for more than two months, getting help may be critical.
Bipolar disorder is not nearly as common as depression, although it is often expressed as depression with spouts of manic behavior and angry outbursts. If you think you may be suffering from bipolar disorder, it’s important to seek a diagnosis.
If you suspect that you are experiencing depression or bipolar disorder, therapy can provide significant relief. Your BPS therapist can help determine if you really are experiencing a mental health issue or if something else may be affecting you mood, such as a medication side effect.
Therapy Can Help You Regain Control Of Your Life
Your highly trained and experienced BPS therapist can provide you with a safe, confidential and nonjudgmental space to work through difficult feelings, issues and situations. Together, you can identify, explore, address and reframe the issues and losses that are causing you pain. You can look at your strengths, supports and other positive aspects of your life that might be difficult to see right now. You can also examine any self-limiting behaviors and negative self-talk that are contributing to your symptoms. Your therapist can help you shift from negative or hopeless thinking to more useful, practical and empowering thoughts and actions, as well as help you develop healthy ways to cope with stress and sadness.
Your BPS therapist can also help you come to terms with where you are in your lifespan. You can work on acceptance, developing more mindfulness, and explore the many choices and possibilities that could bring more meaning and joy into your life. Rather than giving up or giving in, you can cultivate and celebrate all that you do have and begin to see your life as a wonderful collection of experiences.
The best news about depression and bipolar disorder is how treatable and manageable they are. With the right therapist, approach and medication (if it is necessary), you can alleviate symptoms, reengage in activities that once brought you joy, and take pleasure in your life again. It is possible to heal and feel better – even very good – about where you are in your life.
But, you still may have questions or concerns…
I think that therapy could be helpful, but I’m on a fixed income and concerned about costs.
This is your life and wellbeing, and the physical and mental, as well as financial, costs of untreated depression or bipolar disorder can be high. Addressing symptoms and related issues now can not only make you feel better sooner, but it can also prevent negative feelings from worsening, which can lead to other mental and physical health complications.
Many people come to BPS having worked with other therapists who were not trained to work specifically with seniors struggling with depression or bipolar disorder or who they couldn’t relate with – which is a waste of time and money. At BPS, we’ll conduct a referral assessment and match you with a therapist who is trained and experienced to work with seniors experiencing depression or bipolar disorder and whose personality is a good match for yours. Once you find that good match, making a commitment to yourself may be one of the most valuable investments there is. Imagine feeling and functioning better now and in the long-term on a regular basis and ask yourself what that’s worth.
If money still is an issue, you can talk with your BPS therapist to see if they work on a sliding scale. They may also be able to help you find other lower cost resources in the community.
I’m already taking quite a few medications, and I’m afraid that a depression or bipolar disorder diagnosis will mean more medication.
There are many approaches to treating depression, and many seniors have overcome depression without the need for medication. Non-medication techniques can be very effective, especially if you are experiencing situational and not clinical depression, which your BPS therapist can help you determine.
In the case that all other approaches and strategies are not working, your therapist may suggest that you meet with a psychiatrist. There are biochemical factors that contribute to bipolar disorder and some forms depression, which medication can significantly help with. If medication is prescribed, your therapist will work closely with you and your psychiatrist in order to monitor progress, potential side effects, and make sure that it doesn’t interfere with any other medications you may be taking.
I’m afraid that therapy will shine a light on my pain and make me feel even worse.
Oftentimes, the fear of talking about difficult emotions is far more intense then the actual experience. In fact, you may be surprised by how much relief can come from talking with someone who really understands seniors. Your BPS therapist can provide you with a safe, confidential and nonjudgmental place to talk through painful feelings without agenda or expectation. Together, you can set a pace and create a process that feels right for you. Being part of the process, your active engagement in therapy will help you discover a gentle way to heal, relieve symptoms, and regain control of your life.
We encourage you to schedule a referral assessment with a BPS therapist, trained by BPS Director Dr. Jan Hittelman. We will work with you to determine what your specific issues are and ensure a good match between you and a BPS therapist in terms of personality, style and expertise.
You can also check out our free, online therapist directory, which will match you with a therapist who has expertise treating seniors with depression and bipolar disorder.