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Mental Health and Aging

Health Is More Than Your Body

Health is about feeling your best, which means not just how your body is functioning but also your emotional state and how well you can cope with stress, change or loss. There is no shame in wanting to take care of your mental health, just as there’s no shame in going to the doctor when you’re sick or jogging to improve your cardiovascular health.

Getting older can present different mental health challenges than other stages of life. Even if you didn’t struggle to maintain a positive outlook before, it’s not uncommon to need to be more proactive as you get older. Big changes like retirement, empty nesting, illness or facing financial stress can introduce new challenges that you might not be able to manage or face on your own. Approximately 20% of seniors experience mental health issues of some kind, so you are not alone.

At Banner Health, we are here to offer tools and resources to help empower you to take control of your mental health. We offer in-person and online access to multiple therapy modalities (or approaches), grief counseling, substance abuse treatment, stress management skills, medication and psychiatric treatment. We can treat anxiety disorders, depression, bipolar disorder, substance abuse and chemical dependency, personality disorders, self-harming behavior and more. Whatever difficulty you may be facing, there are caring and compassionate professionals at Banner Health who understand what you’re experiencing and are trained to help.

Learn more about our behavioral health services.

When to Seek Help

Going to therapy is not a sign that you “need” help. Instead, it’s a way of recognizing that therapy is a helpful tool for processing change, coping with grief and even just dealing with the daily realities you face. Therapy can be a beneficial tool for anyone and everyone. You do not need a mental health diagnosis to start seeing a therapist. If you find yourself struggling to manage your emotions, lack motivation or are facing new challenges that you aren’t equipped to handle on your own, it may be time to make your mental health a priority. Remember that asking for help is a sign of strength and maturity.

Tips for Maintaining Mental Health

There are many ways you can learn to regulate your emotions and find peace amidst the tumult and difficulty that life can present you with, even if you don’t seek out professional help. To help maintain your mental health, you can:

  • Spend time with friends and family
  • Talk about and express your feelings regularly by sharing with people you trust or finding other outlets, like artistic expression and journaling
  • Reduce alcohol consumption, which is a mood depressant
  • Stay active and eat a well-rounded, plant-rich diet
  • Cultivate new skills, hobbies and interests
  • Set goals and develop plans to achieve them
  • Get enough sleep
  • Write down all the things you are grateful for
  • Create and maintain daily routines and rituals

Taking care of your physical and cognitive health can also support your mental health. :Learn more about staying active and maintaining your memory and brain health

When Mental Health Becomes Dangerous

Mental health issues are like physical health issues. Sometimes treatment is easy and effective, and sometimes a serious diagnosis can be life-threatening and require more aggressive treatment. It’s important to remember that serious illness often has warning signs and this applies to serious mental health concerns, too. If you experience these warning signs in yourself or notice them in a loved one, it’s important to seek out support and treatment.

  • Unusual thinking or behaviors that concern others
  • Obsessive thinking or compulsive behavior
  • Engaging in high-risk behaviors
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Anger, irritability or aggressiveness
  • A psychological and/or physiological dependence on drugs or alcohol
  • Persistent headaches, digestive issues or pain
  • Feeling flat, hopeless or difficulty experiencing any positive emotions
  • Noticeable changes in mood, appetite or sleep behaviors
  • Increased anxiousness or stress

If you or someone you know is in a crisis, get help immediately. You can call 911, Banner Behavioral Health at (602) 254-4357 or the National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).