Talk Therapy


Talk Therapy Can Help Seniors Deal with Depression

Talk Therapy Can Help Seniors Deal with Depression

It’s easy to see why some seniors can fall into deep depression and decide life may not be worth living anymore. They may have lost a spouse, family members, children, friends or perhaps their mobility and health.

Sometimes depression may come softly, slowly stealing the seniors’ enthusiasm for life and isolating themselves from others while struggling alone with all sorts of depressive emotions.

New therapies have emerged that can help seniors deal with emotional issues that even they may not know they have. Talk therapy is one method of treatment that’s making amazing pathways to help seniors re-evaluate their present situation and find ways to deal with it.

How Talk Therapy for Seniors Works

Mental health social workers, psychiatrists and psychologists are become adept at helping seniors revamp their lives with the help of talk therapy. This type of therapy is designed to get the seniors to confront their negative thoughts and mood swings and develop new ones that can stave off bouts of depression that plague them in future years.

Talk Therapy Can Help Seniors Deal with Depression

Some seniors that are dealing with depression today may be part of the generation that didn’t put much stock into therapy or counseling. They think of it as ‘spilling their guts’ to a person they don’t know and who doesn’t really know them. It’s embarrassing and a stigma that they want to avoid at all costs.

During a senior’s younger years, most have likely never entered a therapist’s office. Now, however, they’re recognizing that some of their problems might be easier to handle if they talk to a professional about ways to deal with them.

Since Medicare pays for therapy and psychiatric assessment, there’s no viable reason for a senior not to have an evaluation from a professional. Seniors are realizing that their time is more limited than it was and that they need to make the most of whatever years they have left.

Talk therapy is a good place to start when dealing with a senior’s depression and negative thoughts. If the patient is in full blown clinical depression, antidepressants may be in order – or some other type of lifestyle change such as diet and exercise.

Talking to someone neutral — especially a trained professional — about personal problems and fears can’t hurt and will likely give the senior a new perspective on life so they can become open to changes and new opportunities that present themselves in later years.

Losing a Pet

Losing a cherished pet can be an emotionally devastating experience. Unfortunately, on a societal level, we simply do not recognize how painful pet loss can be and how much it can impair our emotional and physical health, and even our basic functioning. The New England Journal of Medicine(link is external) recently reported that a woman whose dog died experienced Broken Heart Syndrome — a condition in which the person exhibits symptoms that mimic a heart attack. While the story made worldwide news, it did little to change our general attitudes.shutterstock_204536929

For example, few of us would ask our employers for time off to grieve a beloved pet. We fear that doing so would paint us as overly sentimental or emotionally weak. And few employers would grant such requests were we to make them.

The fact that pet loss isn’t sanctioned by society at large has a significant and detrimental impact on our ability to recover. It not only robs us of crucial social support; it also makes us feel embarrassed about the magnitude of the heartbreak, and we feel hesitant to disclose our distress to our loved ones. We might even wonder what is wrong with us and question why we are responding in such “disproportional” ways to the loss.

Here are five reasons why pet loss can be so devastating, why it causes such disruption to our lives, and why we should take such events more seriously than we currently do.

1. Losing a pet can hurt as much as losing a family member.

Many pet owners consider their pets to be part of their family. In fact, many people who live alone consider their pet to be the closest member of their family. They might see their parents or siblings several times a year, but their cat, dog, horse, bird (or any other cherished animal we consider a pet) is part of their daily lives, and as such, the pet’s death is likely to be far more impactful than that of a geographically distant relative.

2. All pets function as therapy animals.

Whether they are trained to do so or not, all pets function as therapy animals to some extent. Their mere presence provides companionship, reduces loneliness and depression, and eases anxiety. When we lose them, we lose a significant, and often vital, source of support and comfort.

3. Caretaking makes us feel better about ourselves.

Caring for another being, whether human or animal, has been shown to help our mood and self-esteem, and increase feelings of well-being and purpose. When we no longer have a pet to care for, we lose a significant source of emotional self-care as well.

4. Our daily routines get disrupted.

Caring for pets involves routines and responsibilities around which we craft our days. We get exercise by walking our dog, we wake up early to feed our cat, and we look forward to the weekend so we can ride our horse. Losing a pet disrupts established routines that provide us with structure and give our actions meaning. This is why in addition to emotional pain, we feel aimless and lost in the days and weeks after our pet dies.

Most dog owners are more likely to be known in their neighborhood by their animal’s name than they are by theirs. They are Rosie’s mom or Fido’s dad, and they get attention wherever they go. Online, our pet’s social media pages often have more followers than our own. As such, our pets become part of our self-definition, and losing them causes a rupture in our very sense of self. Without them, we are forced into anonymity, we become invisible.

Losing a pet doesn’t just cause a broken heart; it elicits real and serious grief reactions. It’s time we took it more seriously, both on an individual and on a societal level.

For more about healing from pet loss, see How to Fix a Broken Heart.(link is external)

Copyright 2018 Guy Winch

You Are Not Alone – Highland Park Church Nashville TN
615-673-2221 – Dan@HighlandParkChurch.Org

Emotional First Aid

Guy Winch asks us to take our emotional health as seriously as we take our physical health — and explores how to heal from common heartaches.

Why you should listen

Guy Winch is a licensed psychologist who works with individuals, couples and families. As an advocate for psychological health, he has spent the last two decades adapting the findings of scientific studies into tools his patients, readers and audience members can use to enhance and maintain their mental health. As an identical twin with a keen eye for any signs of favoritism, he believes we need to practice emotional hygiene with the same diligence with which we practice personal and dental hygiene.

His recent book, Emotional First Aid: Healing Rejection, Guilt, Failure, and Other Everyday Hurts, has been translated in 24 languages. He writes the popular “Squeaky Wheel Blog” on, and he is the author of The Squeaky Wheel: Complaining the Right Way to Get Results, Improve Your Relationships and Enhance Self-Esteem. His new book, How to Fix a Broken Heart, was published by TED Books/Simon & Schuster in 2017. He has also dabbled in stand-up comedy.

What others say

“Reading Guy Winch’s excellent new book “Emotional First Aid” proved to be a surprisingly powerful experience for me. … I feel deeply appreciative for his astute observations on so many common causes of emotional distress and their cures, and especially for the chapter on loneliness.” — Psychologist and blogger Susan Heitler