Saturday, October 15, 2005

Depression, Suicide, Aging, and EQ - By Susan Dunn

There are so many myths about aging. For instance, do you think, as many do, that “all old people are alike,” and that nobody changes after about the age of 50?

Nothing could be farther from the truth. Freud’s famous statement that people couldn’t change after the age of 50 simply isn’t true. At the time he formed his theories, most people didn’t live past 50, and that of course shaped his views. He may not have seen a lot of people over 50.

In fact this limited exposure to people in older age groups continues to confound our understanding. A lot of the psychological assessments available weren’t normed on enough people over the age of 60 to make them reliable for individuals in that age group. It’s all about developmental stages and you wouldn’t expect “normal” to mean the same thing for a 75 year old as a 42 year old and more than for a 6 year old and a 12 year old.

Seniors are not alike as individuals or as a group. Surveys show that the most “contented” people are people aged 60-69, but at the same time, the highest suicide rates of any age group occur among individuals 65 and older. 81% of senior suicides are male and Anglo males are particularly vulnerable. White males over 65 have the highest suicide rate, second only to white adolescent males. Suicide rates are higher for those who are divorced or widowed, and cause is attributed first to physical ailments, and then to depression.

The percentage of seniors in the population has risen steadily from 3% in 1900, to about 12% now. It’s projected to increase to 21% in the next 30 years. Since most emotional problems are often presented first to a primary care physician, as physical problems (headache, backache), medical schools are hastening to add exposure to geriatric medicine and psychology in the training of doctors. Psychology licensing boards are also beginning to require it.

It’s important to understand that depression manifests itself in different ways. We usually think of the “lethargic” depressed person, the one who moves and thinks slowly, can’t sustain eye contact, talks negatively, is disinterested or unable to enjoy their usual pleasures, and wants to sleep all the time. But depressed people can also be agitated, angry, restless, irritable, eyes darting around, frantically trying to enjoy things (but not able to), and not able to sleep much.
In either case, women may talk about the feelings, but men tend to complain about physical ailments when they see a doctor.

It’s important to understand that depression isn’t a “normal” part of aging, and that it's treatable. If you think you’re depressed, or that your loved one is, it’s good to start with a physical checkup. You should be make a list of all medications being taken, and also consider the normal routine. Many seniors, especially those who live alone, neglect nutrition and exercise.
As I say in my ebook, “EQ and Depression,” you aren’t supposed to be depressed as you age. You’re supposed to feel good. Many seniors have a high EQ, are resilient, and are experienced copers. EQ intends to increase with age, but not if you don’t work on it. Skills such as flexiblity, creativity and resilience can be learned, and it pays to start developing them in early adulthood, as they take time to learn. Barring physical problems, you can learn to manage your emotions and the thoughts that accompany, and cause, them.

We know that isolation is worse on our health than high blood pressure and obesity combined, and it not being isolated depends upon your interpersonal skills – your ability to make new friends and keep the old ones.

Creativity is needed to learn to work around things that change. It tends to take longer, for instance, to learn new things as we age, but many seniors are adept at “many ways to skin a cat.” Likewise there are ways to make the short-term memory loss less bothersome. Short-term memory loss is one of the things that does come with aging, but the vast experience of seniors in coping gives them a vast store of tricks to pull ou of the bag to help them remember.

As one of my senior coaching clients tells me, “My short-term memory’s off about 10%, but since it used to be far above-average, I’m doing fine. Now I just write things down, like I’ve seen others do for years.”

The ability to creatively meet challenges depends upon having an optimistic attitude, which also can be learned. I coach people in learned optimism and emotional intelligence competencies all the time! If you want to, and are willing to, you can learn to change self-limiting beliefs, once you realize they aren’t working for you. It depends upon correct information (like it’s not “normal” to be depressed at any age, including old age) and then becoming aware of your emotions and self-talk, and changing them.

Depression usually responds best to a regime of exercise, good nutrition including neutraceuticals, medication, and cognitive work. Coaching can help you move forward, make goals and stay accountable to them.

We also know that resilient seniors are lifelong learners. While we don’t make any more brain cells as adults, we can continue to form new connections throughout the lifespan IF we learn new things; the more radical the better. This means if you’re an engineer, take a literature course. If you’re a Spanish teacher, study some physics. If you’re a left-brained mathematician, take an EQ course and develop the other side of your brain. As someone said, “fall in love with learning and you’ll never end up with a broken heart”.

Intentionality is a high-order emotional intelligence competency. Why not intend to be one of those seniors who’s resilient and contented, who ages gracefully? Look to your wellness now, whatever age you are, and don’t leave out the EQ skills. The time to be developing them is now.

Our emotions directly effect our immune sytem, which is our health. They also effect our ability to get along with, and enjoy, others and ourselves. Men may particularly want to address the EQ issue. I know from the statistics, and from my coaching practice, that a man living alone at the age of 60 or beyond is in a vulnerable position, and while there are more men at that age than women, the smart women will be holding out for the healthy, EQ-smart men to bless with the health-promoting marital state.

Get started now. It’s never too late to learn!

Please consider this article for your website or ezine. Permission to reprint if byline stays intact and links are activated on the Internet. Courtesy notification appreciated.

©Susan Dunn, MA, The EQ Coach, http://www.susandunn.cc. Susan works with adults of all ages to develop their emotional intelligence for applications to wellness and success in relationships and career. She offers individual coaching, Internet courses and ebooks. She also certifies EQ coaches in an innovative, no-residency program. Mailto:sdunn@susandunn.cc for free ezine, and more information.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/

7 comments:

Anonymous said...

Many of our modern drugs have harsh side-affects and cost the “earth”, so the next time you come down with a cold or the flu or canine separation anxiety, why not try a gentle alternative that costs next to nothing?

Instead of immediately forking over large amounts of money for over-the-counter drugs, go to the kitchen cupboard and see what you can find to relieve your symptoms including canine separation anxiety.

Here are some helpful hints for canine separation anxiety …

A simple hot compress applied to the face is very soothing to those throbbing aches and pains of a blocked sinus, while a few drops of eucalyptus oil on a handkerchief can provide welcome relief for similar conditions. While supplements of vitamin C, D and zinc will shorten the lifespan of a common cold, a hot lemon drink is also extremely good. And be sure to cuddle-up in bed when you have a cold, as it will make the body sweat out the germs.

Cool lemon juice and honey are a great soother for a sore throat and gives the body much-needed vitamin C at the same time The juice of one lemon in a glass of water is sufficient. Melt the honey in a little hot water for ease of mixing.

A smear of Vaseline or petroleum jelly will do wonders for those sore lips and nose that often accompany a cold.

A 'streaming cold' where the nose and eyes water profusely, can respond to drinking onion water. Simply dip a slice of onion into a glass of hot water for two seconds, then sip the cooled water throughout the day. Half an onion on the bedside table also alleviates cold symptoms because its odor is inhaled while you sleep.

People prone to catarrh may find that chewing the buds from a pine or larch throughout the day will clear up their condition in just a few days.

Do you suffer from sore eyes? If your eyes are sore from lengthy exposure to the sun, try beating the white of an egg and then spread it over a cloth and bandage the eyes with it. Leave the preparation on overnight. Soft cheese (quark) is also a good remedy for this condition.

For those unpleasant times when you suffer from diarrhea, two tablespoons of brown vinegar will usually fix the problem. Vinegar can be rather horrible to take, but who cares! The problem is more horrible. Vinegar can usually be found in most people's cupboards, so you don't need to worry about finding someone to run to the shop for you in an emergency.

Sleepless? Instead of reaching for sleeping pills, which can quickly become addictive, try this: Drink only caffeine free tea or coffee starting late in the afternoon.. Go to bed earlier rather than later, as being overtired tends to keep people awake. Make sure the bedroom is dark and quiet. Use only pure wool or cotton sheets and blankets. Polyester materials can cause sweat and make you thirsty (if your child constantly asks for water throughout the night, this could be the reason).

And don't watch those scary movies just before retiring! If you still can't sleep, make a tea of lemongrass or drink a nightcap of herbal tea containing chamomile. It's easy to grow lemongrass in your garden or start a flower pot on the balcony for ease of picking. Simply steep a handful in boiling water for five minutes. Honey may be added for a sweetener.

Of course there will be times when you do need modern drugs, so if these simple remedies don't have the required affect, be sure to see a health care professional.


canine separation anxiety

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