Although severe depression is not commonplace among the elderly it does effect a percentage of around 14 percent . We already know that exercise programmes and outdoor activities can boost the mood and a recent study has suggested that increased social contact can also do the trick.
The research compared an exercise programme with a type of social contact known as befriending. This is basically where someone visited and talked to the elderly people with symptoms of depression. The research itself involved 193 people with an average age of 81, the group was split into two then half received the exercise programme and the other half received social visits.
The results showed that the social contact helped just as much as the exercise programme with average scores increasing for the entire group over the six month period regardless of what treatment was used.
It is thought that the benefits of exercise are actually strongly related to the fact there is a social element involved as exercises are taught by an instructor and the individual will now be part of a group.
If you are feeling depressed or if you have an elderly relative you think might be depressed then there are many treatments that could help. Visiting your GP is a good way to start as they will be able to recommend self help and support groups and talking therapies.
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