Avoiding Depression After Retirement

Some relish retirement with its free time to do just as one pleases. Others fall into a funk.

People who loved (or were accustomed to) their career can suddenly feel empty and lost minus the productivity and social aspects of work. Even those who disliked their jobs can feel so. While depression can creep in — draining interest and enthusiasm in the form of melancholy, fatigue, restlessness, pessimism or a sense of hopelessness — developing the right outlook and habits will help retired people lead happier lives.

Avoiding Depression After REtirement


First Prepare the mind

Be conscious that this big change in lifestyle can bring lows as well as highs. Being mindful of any mental/emotional sabotage is the first step to avoiding it. Step two is taking action to set a course for productivity and fulfillment – however you define them.

Before retiring, imagine how you would fill your time in a typical week or year, and discuss your vision with someone close.

Viewed as the opportunity to fulfill dreams and goals, retirement can be more rewarding. While the possibilities are many, putting structure to the possibilities can help with their realization.

Create structure and define purpose

By thinking about and deciding on your unique purpose and what you want to accomplish, you have a mental guide for each day. Pursuing a hobby, playing a sport, mentoring others, volunteering, helping your family, developing a skill, acquiring new knowledge… whatever it is, give it shape in your mind.

“Cultivate an attitude of excitement to take on the day, because you’re doing what you love.”


When you create structure, purpose and direction – and a schedule – you have a familiar path to reach life goals.

Stay active and engaged


Avoiding Depression After Retirement1

For many retirees, friendships fall away once the workplace connection is cut.

Social isolation and inactivity are destructive. At least some of a retired person’s activities should be social, whether that means exercising at a gym, connecting with neighbors, volunteering at a charity, or even taking on a part-time job that involves interacting with others. A partial list of suggestions includes:

  • Taking college or adult education courses
  • Mentoring students as a volunteer
  • Sharing experience and skills – for example, retired business people can coach entrepreneurs through local SCORE chapters (
  • Joining a local senior center or other social group and make new friends
  • Getting involved in church or civic activities
  • Spending more time with family (another good mentoring opportunity)
  • Starting a part-time business – Internet-based businesses can provide excellent opportunities, even if it’s just selling all those unused items in the attic, basement and garage on eBay
  • Connecting with family and friends on social media such as Facebook
  • And if you have a spouse or friend who can join you, so much the better.

Take care of fundamentals 

Of course, eating healthfully, exercising and getting proper sleep offer body and mind benefits.

Keep experimenting

Understand that happiness may require some searching. A first stab at a part-time job, for example, could be disappointing, and you might find you’re not really the next great American novelist. Keep experimenting until you find something that clicks. When you do, you’re not fighting depression; you’re living with purpose.

What They Say

“ We had our name in at other places and had driven by Meetinghouse Village many times before we came to see it. We loved it immediately. Everyone was pleasant and kind. We moved in right away. People in our building are nice to be with and check on each other to make sure we're OK. We are happy to be here. ”

What They Say

“ Some six years ago I searched for a retirement apartment that was comfortable, safe and provided everything needed for independent living at a price that a person of modest means could afford. I found Meetinghouse Village not only met my basic requirements, but also provided for spiritual needs. I have felt no pressure to be anything but what I am. By living here, I feel I have grown and become a better person. I have become more tolerant and have a greater appreciation of God. ”

What They Say

“ I have lived at Meetinghouse Village for nearly 10 years - almost three years with my husband and seven years alone, since he passed away. It's a very pleasant and affordable place with no worries about maintenance and costly repairs. There's a lot to do: social events, game nights, movies, gardening, etc. if you wish to participate. We also have a hair salon, exercise rooms, woodworking shop, laundry room and mail room, all under our roof. I have quiet, friendly neighbors, and I feel happy and safe living here. I couldn't find a better place to live on my income. ”

What They Say

“ I enjoy living here because I feel safe and comfortable in an atmosphere of friendship and spiritual understanding. ”

What They Say

“ There are lots of reasons why I like living at Meetinghouse Village. It's close to parks, beaches, historical towns and cultural opportunities. The apartments are well appointed and comfortable, have decks and ample storage spaces. I like the fact that the staff arranges activities, and we residents are free to use the community spaces for gatherings of our own making. If we have guests, the guest apartment is a tremendous asset, and the fees are minimal. And if any of us have concerns, we can go to the executive director -- he listens. ”