8 Steps for Managing Retirement Depression

Research suggests that approximately one-third of retirees experience depression symptoms after retirement. Unfortunately, many people aren’t adequately prepared to manage their mental health after quitting the workforce.

While your priorities may change in retirement, your life satisfaction matters. If you’re struggling with depression after retirement, here are some tips to keep in mind.

Signs of Clinical Depression After Retirement

Depression is a mood disorder, and it can occur at any stage during your life. While the symptoms range in severity, the condition itself is often underdiagnosed, particularly in older adults.

Depression looks different from average retirement blues. Some of the main symptoms include:

  • persistent sadness that lasts for most of the day
  • ongoing apathy or anhedonia about your usual interests or relationships
  • intense feelings of guilt
  • appetite changes (hungrier than normal or not hungry at all)
  • difficulty concentrating
  • sleeping problems (sleeping more than usual or not sleeping enough)
  • suicidal thoughts or self-harm

Depression can affect anyone, although research shows that women are twice as likely to develop this condition than men. Whether you’re preparing for retirement- or you’ve recently retired, here are some ways to manage your mental health.

Consider Post-Retirement Bridge Employment a Gradual Transition

If possible, determine if you can try ‘bridge employment,’ where you work fewer hours or step into a part-time job instead of quitting the working world completely. This gradual transition allows you to enjoy some of the perks of retirement without undergoing such a massive change all at once.

If traditional work doesn’t appeal to you, consider volunteer work. You’ll still stay active, have a sense of structure, and you’ll learn new skills, all of which can help you feel better about yourself.

Take Care of Your Economic Affairs

Financial worries can make it challenging to enjoy your retirement. Your feelings about your personal finance is a significant part of your mental health.

If possible, consider checking in with a financial planner several months (or even years) before retirement. They can give you an accurate picture of what to expect when you transition into full-time retirement.

Keep in mind that you might still feel anxious about money, especially in the first years after retirement. This is normal, but having the data in front of you can give you invaluable peace of mind.

Practice Self-Care Now

Don’t make the mistake of waiting until you’re fully retired to look after your needs. Try to establish healthy habits now. That way, they will feel more natural once you stop working.

If you have any vices- and most of us do- it may be time to revisit your relationship with these unhealthy patterns. Stress exacerbates the desire to escape or numb, and you want to be mindful of falling into addictive tendencies.

Connect With Other Retirees

Happiness studies continue revealing that our health and happiness largely depend on one variable: the relationship dynamics we share with others. Social connections are critical for your well-being, so prioritize spending time with loved ones as often as possible.

With that, aim to build healthy relationships with other people in the same phase of life. Support groups for mental health issues can also be extremely beneficial.

Accept Your Mixed Emotions

Before retirement, people often assume that they will feel ecstatic once they quit working. They imagine long stretches of infinite leisure time, and they look forward to life without tedious commutes or pesky bosses.

But in reality, retirement often triggers mixed emotions. Work often provides a sense of purpose and structure, and your relationships with your work colleagues offer companionship. Likewise, older adults often grapple with fears about their own physical health and the reality of their mortality.

Try to accept these emotions. They are normal, and they don’t indicate that you are doing anything wrong. All change can be difficult, even when the change is desired and healthy.

Redefine Your Identity

Retirement identity crises are real, and that’s why it’s important to find new meaning and new routines as you move into this next phase in your life.

Many retirees assume they’ll feel extremely happy and relaxed once they stop working. But the reality is far more nuanced. You may experience a profound sense of angst or emptiness after retiring.

With this, take some time to consider who you are now. What brings you the most joy? How do you want to take advantage of your time now?

Reassess Your Values

Values may change during retirement. You may have had certain retirement plans in your mind- only to realize they don’t actually bring you happiness or fulfillment. This is perfectly normal, but it requires allowing yourself time for self-reflection and self-compassion.

Consider asking yourself the following questions:

  • What are the most important relationships I have right now?
  • How do I want to embrace this next stage in my life?
  • Which new skills would I like to try?
  • What are some of my own interests I want to pursue further?
  • How do I want to look after my physical health right now?

Furthermore, try to stick to a daily routine. Routines help us stay grounded, and they give us a reason to get up in the morning and participate in life.

How Therapy Can Help Post-Retirement Depression

Your mental health is important at every stage of life, but retirement life often brings complex emotions.

New retirees often face anxiety, depression, and compromised self-worth during this phase. You don’t have to navigate these challenges on your own. Therapy can help you better understand your emotions and implement healthier coping skills to manage stress.

You deserve to enjoy this special time in your life. Contact me today to schedule your initial consultation.


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Austin, TX 78759

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