How to cope with retirement blues: Tips to deal with depression

Retirement depression can be real for people who have been used to the hustle bustle of professional life. Here are tips to keep your emotions in check.
An old woman feeling depressed after retirement
Retirement is time for you to rest and enjoy. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock
Natalia Ningthoujam Updated: 31 Jul 2023, 02:41 pm IST
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When people retire, they are expected to do the things they couldn’t do due to long working hours or hectic life. Be it gardening, playing a sport or travelling, it can be anything. Life is supposed to be simple and you are expected to take it easy after you retire. But it is also natural for some people to feel depressed after retirement. According to a 2020 study published by National Library of Medicine, about one out of three people who retire suffers from depression. You can say goodbye to retirement blues by learning how to deal with depression.

To get effective tips on retirement depression, Health Shots reached out to Dr Rituparna Ghosh, Clinical Psychologist, Apollo Hospitals, Navi Mumbai.

Happy old woman
Not all seniors are able to accept retirement happily. Image courtesy: Adobe Stock

What is retirement depression?

Retirement depression, also known as retirement blues or retirement transition depression, refers to a condition where people experience feelings of sadness, anxiety or depression after retiring from their long-term career or job. Dr Ghosh says it is a psychological and emotional response to the significant life change that retirement represents. Retirement is a major life event that can bring about various challenges and adjustments. These include:

1. Loss of identity

For many people, their career or job becomes an integral part of their identity. Upon retirement, they might struggle with a sense of purpose and direction.

2. Social isolation

Retirement can lead to a reduction in social interactions, especially if the your work was your primary source of social connections.

3. Financial concerns

Worries about financial stability or managing money during retirement can lead to stress and anxiety.

4. Changes in routine

The structured work schedule often disappears after retirement, leaving some people feeling lost or without a sense of daily purpose.

5. Health concerns

Health issues that come with ageing can add to the emotional burden of retirement, says the expert.

6. Feelings of uselessness

Some people might experience a sense of uselessness or believe that they are no longer contributing to the society.

old woman eating
You can explore new activities like experimenting in the kitchen. Image courtesy: Shutterstock

Tips to deal with retirement depression

Handling retirement depression requires a combination of self-awareness, positive coping strategies, and seeking support from others. Here are tips on how to overcome retirement blues:

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1. Acknowledge your feelings

Recognise and accept that feeling down or anxious about retirement is normal. Avoid suppressing your emotions; instead, give yourself permission to feel and express them, says Dr Ghosh.

2. Stay socially connected

Engage in social activities to combat isolation. Maintain connections with friends, family and former colleagues even if you don’t see them at work anymore. Join clubs, volunteer or participate in community events to build new social networks.

3. Create a routine

Establish a daily schedule or routine that provides structure and purpose. This could include activities like exercising, pursuing hobbies and reading.

4. Explore new interests

Retirement is an opportunity to explore passions and interests you didn’t have time for during your career. Discover new hobbies or revisit old ones to bring joy and fulfilment into your life.

5. Set goals

Define clear and achievable goals for your retirement. Whether they are related to personal development, travel or community involvement, having objectives can give you a sense of purpose, says the expert.

6. Financial planning

Address any financial concerns by creating a realistic budget and financial plan. Seek advice from a financial advisor if needed to alleviate stress about money matters.

7. Maintain physical health

Regular exercise, a balanced diet and getting enough sleep are crucial for overall well-being. Physical health can positively impact your mood and mental outlook.

8. Practise mindfulness

Try some of the mindfulness techniques as it can help to reduce stress and increase emotional resilience.

9. Stay open to change

Embrace the changes that retirement brings and be open to trying new experiences. Cultivate a positive mind-set and view retirement as an opportunity for growth and self-discovery.

If retirement depression becomes overwhelming or persists, consider talking to a mental health expert. That’s because retirement depression can potentially become more serious if not addressed appropriately. While it’s normal to experience some level of adjustment and emotional ups and downs during the retirement transition, some people might find that their feelings of depression persist or intensify over time. If retirement depression is not adequately managed, it can worsen your mental health.

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About the Author

Natalia Ningthoujam has written on various subjects - from music to films and fashion to lifestyle - as a journalist in her career that started in 2010. After getting stories from the crime scene, police headquarters, and conducting interviews with celebrities, she is now writing on health and wellness which has become her focus area. ...Read More

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