Combat depression and anxiety
The Beyond Maturity Blues program is aimed at providing members of the elderly Greek community with information on and how to cope with depression and anxiety
The Beyond Maturity Blues program is an initiative of the Council of the Ageing (COTA) and funded by Beyond Blue to provide informative sessions to the elderly, including in the Greek community.
The sessions, run by peer educated volunteers, discuss the key messages relating to depression and anxiety in the elderly community. Susan Preece, volunteer coordinator at COTA, told Neos Kosmos that the volunteers "go out to all sorts of groups, including Greek speaking groups, and raises awareness about the issues around depression, anxiety and getting older".
"It's not health professional advice; it's not a doctor or a pharmacist talking about treatments. It's the key messages that anxiety and depression are not a normal part of ageing, that depression and anxiety are health problems and they are not weaknesses. And that depression and anxiety are treatable. "So that could involve medication or that could involve talk therapy so that might be seeing a psychologist, seeing a counsellor, improving your diet - finding out a number of ways people can improve their wellbeing."
The sessions came about when COTA and Beyond Blue came to the understanding that a number of people, as they get older, will experience changes in their lives. "People, as they get older, they can develop depression, anxiety because of those changes. For example, for some people their health may deteriorate, and some people may lose friends and things like that. "The key messages of the program are that depression and anxiety are not a normal part of ageing and there is treatment available. And even though there are one million people in Australia living with depression there are effective treatments available.
"One of the things that's common with understanding depression and anxiety is there are changes in the brain; it's like a physical illness but you can't see it. The chemicals in the brain interact differently when someone is depressed. So when someone has a low mood, and they show signs of depression or anxiety over two weeks then they should see a doctor about it. "So it's not a weak personality or a weak person, it's a real condition. It should be treated the same way that someone would go see a doctor about a broken leg."
Preece said symptoms to look out for are low moods, sleep disturbances, crying a lot for no reason, not wanting to socialise, putting on weight, drinking too much alcohol, and a loss of interest and motivation in life. If you feel you may have any of these over the space of two weeks then you should contact Beyond Blue.
The Beyond Maturity Blues program is interested in talking to people who are interested in being a volunteer and talking to people within the community. For more information visit seniorsvoice.org.au/aspx/beyond_maturity_blues.aspx
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