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Coping Strategies for Depression and Anxiety: Powerful Life Options

Depressed middle-age man sitting

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Let’s explore practical and effective coping strategies for depression and anxiety. Understand some of the causes of depression and anxiety as well as symptoms to look out for.  We’ll explore lifestyle changes you can make for improving your state of mind. Finally we discuss the need and resistance to seeking professional help.


Understanding Depression and Anxiety in Older Men

Depression is a sickness that can reduce your desire to live.  It saps you of energy and makes life void of pleasure.  It also makes you less capable of handling stress. Depression and anxiety are common in males in their 50s. Depression is one of the biggest reasons for suicide in men. Suicide is a leading cause of death and is more predominant in men age 40 – 59 than other ages. 


There are many reasons for depression.  These include changing relationships, financial hardship, decreasing health, a major loss, or lack of social interaction [1]. Anxiety involves excessive worry or fear while depression involves deep sadness or despair [2].


Unfortunately there is the false perception that depression is a weakness.  This prevents most men from wanting to discuss their problems [3].  Being able to deal with these mental illnesses is profoundly important. It requires strategies and coping mechanisms to help men improve their life and regain their edge. 


  • Age-Related Challenges: As men age their fitness tends to get worse, they become more prone to diseases such as heart disease or diabetes.  They also often experience loss in their life, such as job loss or marital dissolution.  Finally they also may have to deal with loneliness, job loss or changing expectations of what they expected out of life.  These changes can have a large impact on how some see the world and their place in it.  


  • Symptoms and Recognition: There are a number of signs or symptoms of depression and anxiety to look out for, particularly for men over 50. These include [4]:
    • Sleeping too little or too much
    • Gain or loss of a large amount of weight
    • Anxiety, agitations, sluggishness or lack of action
    • Sadness or moodiness
    • Lack of concentration
    • Aches and pains
    • Loss of sex drive
    • A feeling of emptiness or despair


Core Coping Strategies for Depression and Anxiety

The following strategies are excellent ways to address depression and anxiety.  They allow you to forget your problems for a period. 


Men socializing with sports - coping strategies for depression and anxiety


When exercising you release endorphins, when socializing you release oxytocin, when winning a game or accomplishing a goal you release dopamine, and when meditating or practicing deep breathing you release serotonin.  These hormones are referred to as the happy hormones.  With an increase in these hormones you feel better and less stressed [5].


  • Regular Physical Activity: Exercise is great for both physical benefits as well as mental benefits, including as a way to reduce stress. Physical activity, whether playing a sport or simply walking can be done daily.  Try completing 10,000 steps a day or taking the dog for a walk daily to ensure you use movement and exercise in your daily life. 


  • Building a Support Network: As we get older, particularly for men, we tend to have reduced social interactions.  Our lifestyles change which often cause us to lose touch with old friends and acquaintances.  This makes it difficult for men to discuss problems with others. People who are in stable and supportive relationships are better able to cope with depression. If you don’t have others to talk to, try engaging with men’s social groups through hobbies or reach out to support groups like MensGroup which bring other men together to lend support and friendship [6]. 


  • Stress Management Techniques: The simple act of closing your eyes for a few minutes and emptying your thoughts, helps clear your mind and reduces stress.  Slow deep breathing from the diaphragm helps accomplish the same things.  Practicing these techniques daily and when you feel overwhelmed will help manage your mood and provide a quick but peaceful tool to help forget your worries [7].   


Advanced Strategies for Mental Wellness

  • Realistic Goal Setting and Self-Care: By introducing goal setting and taking care of oneself you develop greater self esteem and improve overall well being. Setting one or two easily achievable SMART goals for the day and accomplishing them helps build self confidence . Similarly, the act of shaving each morning and brushing your teeth may help one develop self worth.  Both of these techniques provide a daily framework which helps one put themselves first and develops psychological resilience [8].


  • Moderating Alcohol and Avoiding Drugs: The use of alcohol and drugs is likely to have a worsening effect on depression and anxiety. Furthermore, it is more likely that alcohol and drugs may cause someone to temporarily develop anxiety and depression [9].


  • Discovering Enjoyable Activities: People who regularly participate in hobbies as part of their leisure time are less likely to suffer from anxiety and depression, especially if they involve physical exercise. Hobbies are activities that people enjoy and which make them happy and help them de-stress. .Make sure you keep yourself busy during your down-time. Find a hobby and make sure it’s something you enjoy [10].  


Men playing chess - coping strategies for depression and anxiety

Lifestyle Adjustments for Enhanced Well-being

  • Maintaining a Healthy Lifestyle: Living a healthy lifestyle including a balanced diet, exercise, restful sleep, social engagement, reduced idleness and a reduction in alcohol all contribute to a reduction in depression.  Who knew that a healthy lifestyle leads to a healthy mind (/sarcasm) [11].


  • Engaging in Meaningful Activities: Doing things that matter, such as engaging in a hobby you enjoy, playing a sport you have fun at, or helping a charity you feel strongly about are all things worthy of pursuit. They reduce stress, improve your mood and give a sense of purpose.  Do the things you like or are good at [12].


  • Positive Self-Talk: Positive self talk can shift away from negative thoughts.  It also helps improve self esteem, reduces stress and helps eliminate depression and anxiety [13].  Practice positive self talk – tell yourself you are strong, able and can overcome any challenge that comes your way. Be consistent and avoid negative thoughts.


When to Seek Professional Help

  • Recognizing When to Get Help: I get it. As a guy we 1/ are problem solvers and should be able to solve our own problems, 2/ don’t like to discuss our problems with others. At some point you need to swallow your pride (or fear) and reach out for professional help. Just as you aren’t likely able to fix a physical ailment, such as appendicitis, on your own, you may need help with issues that affect your mental state. Make an appointment with your health provider.


  • Exploration of Medication: Talk with your health provider about both natural remedies and  therapies as well as other medical approaches to combat anxiety and depression.  Be sure to ask about the length of treatment and potential side effects. Drugs are just one approach to coping with anxiety and depression – talk with your doctor about a range of treatments [14].


Conclusion: Coping strategies for depression and anxiety 

Depression and anxiety are some of the biggest hurdles to improving your life and regaining your edge. Mental health issues should not be ignored or put aside because you feel they are a sign of weakness. Take advantage of some of the techniques listed above and if they don’t sufficiently help, there is no shame in seeking professional help. 


The good news is by taking care of yourself, socializing with others, and exercising regularly there is a good chance you can fight depression and anxiety.  This will help lead to a healthier mind and body.


To understand problems men face as they age check out 8 Problems Men Face When Growing Older and How to Deal With Them. Also, check out Benefits of Positive Stress: Motivate, Energize and Enhance Life.


The Content is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the support and guidance of your physician when you are unsure about any health issues.


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Daily Tip

Alcohol? Red Wine is the Better Choice

Pouring a glass of red wineChoose red wine when drinking alcohol for a number of health benefits. First, it contains antioxidants like resveratrol, which support heart health by improving cholesterol levels and blood flow. Additionally, it can reduce the risk of heart disease and stroke. It also has anti-inflammatory properties that boost overall health. Plus, moderate consumption of it may help improve gut health and support longevity. With these benefits, it stands out as a healthier option compared to other alcoholic beverages. So, next time you want to drink alcohol, choose red wine for its health benefits.

Check out Easy Choices Hard Life, Hard Choices the Best Life.

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