Also known as BEHAVIORAL HEALTH, remember that good mental health is ageless! A healthy mind is as important as a healthy body.
When you maintain good mental health you can:
- Keep your body strong
- Handle difficult situations
- Stay better connected to you family, your friends, and your community
Having good mental health doesn't mean that you'll always be happy. When negative feelings like sadness, loneliness or feeling 'down' disrupt your life or go on for too long, there may be a bigger problem.
The AZ Links Behavioral Health Resources page includes many local and national resources and support organizations.
If you are feeling "blue" or emotionally "under the weather" for more than two weeks, call your primary-care physician immediately. Tell your health care professional how you are feeling. Explain to them any changes in behavior like being easily upset, lack of sleep, being afraid of things, feeling hopeless, and any other changes you notice in yourself. You may need medication and/or talk therapy to get through a tough time. There is help available. Older adults benefit from available help at the same rate as younger adults.
Other things you can do after speaking to your doctor:
- Share your feelings with a trusted friend, family member or spiritual advisor.
- Ask for advice from staff in senior centers as they may have helpful resources.
- Call for information from the National Eldercare Locator at 1-800-677-1116 or speak with the Federal Center for Mental Health Services 1-800-789-2647. These organizations will help you find a nearby program that can help you.
- Check your yellow pages for organizations that may be of help to you.
Depression is one of the most common conditions associated with suicide among older adults. Other conditions such as change in medications, death of a loved one; physical illness; fear of dying, emotional and economical distress; social isolation and loneliness. A family history of suicide and chronic pain can all contribute to suicidal ideation.
Persons attempting suicide are often so distressed that they are unable to see that they have other options. However, suicide is not the answer and is preventable. If you have had suicidal thoughts or attempts or know someone who has, there is help out there. Please check out resources at the end of this page.
- To learn more about depression, its symptoms, treatment options and much more, visit NIH Senior Health: Depression . This Web site is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Aging and National Library of Medicine.
- The AZ Links Important Phone Numbers page has many suicide and crisis prevention / intervention hotline resources with web links to these organizations. They can help at any stage of depression.
- Return to Emotional Well-Being
ALCOHOL AND DRUGS
Many older adults with alcohol and substance abuse problems are simply continuing a pattern of behavior or addiction that began earlier in life. Others go through it due to the stresses and losses associated with aging.
As we age we become particularly vulnerable to the mental and physical effects of alcohol and drug abuse. For example, our tolerance for alcohol changes as we age. This means smaller amounts of use may be indicative of abuse. More than one drink per day or more than two drinks during a special occasion could be a sign of substance abuse.
The first step is realizing that substance abuse is occurring, which can be difficult. However, it is important to realize that there are many options for treatment and help.
- Learn more about substance abuse prevention and suicide prevention from the Arizona Department of Health Services. The Office of Prevention Services lists Crisis Hotlines and links to supportive organizations.
- To find out more on signs and symptoms of substance abuse visit Helpguide.org.
- Return to Emotional Well-Being
Depression is NOT a normal part of aging. Just because persons are aging or may have physical problems, they don't need to live with depressed feelings or other lingering emotional problems. It's also important to recognize that depression does happen.