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Age-related macular degeneration is often followed by depression, method found that cuts risk in half

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(NaturalNews) Clinical depression is often linked with those suffering from macular degeneration, since loss of vision leads to a withdrawing from the activities once enjoyed. (1) In fact, 25 percent of people who have macular degeneration in both eyes ultimately develop clinical depression. (1)

"You can't read, you can't cook, and you can't socialize - and as a result, you may become demoralized, withdrawn and depressed," according to Dr. Barry Rovner, a geriatric psychiatrist at Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia. (1)

To fight the feelings of depression that often result from vision loss, Dr. Rovner set out to help those with macular degeneration through behavior activation. (1) Quite simply, it's a kind of psychological therapy that allows such patients to work with their visual limitations so that they can become involved in activities they once participated in, rather than pull back from them and become disengaged. (1)

Developing and sticking to a coping plan can help ease symptoms of depression

To see if behavior activation could help ease their depression, 188 people, all with age-related macular degeneration and considered at risk of clinical depression, participated in his study. (1) Over the course of two months, a therapist came to their homes to work with the participants. Half of these people had a therapist talk with them about their vision while the other half had therapists who developed a coping strategy (behavior activation).

Coping strategies included the incorporating once-enjoyed activities back into their lives. For some, it meant baking again, creating recipes by writing ingredients one item at a time on large cards. For others, it involved scheduling a set time to have phone conversations with a close friend. Book enthusiasts were encouraged to update their lighting and invest in higher-quality magnifiers. In other words, they were shown ways to get back doing what they love doing rather than thinking their interests and social lives needed to come to a halt because of their condition.

The results?

Compared to patients who just received the talk therapy, the patients who created a plan and stuck to it cut their risk of depression by more than 50 percent. (1)

Recognizing the symptoms of depression and how to help

Symptoms of depression include social withdrawal (especially from friends, family and activities typically enjoyed), weight loss or gain and excessive sleep or extreme fatigue. (2) These symptoms are not only common for those suffering from age-related macular degeneration, but any individual facing a circumstance or set of circumstances (health-related or otherwise) that bring about mounting feelings of sadness, isolation and frustrations.

Interaction with individuals can help in the form of professional therapy or discussions with family and friends, but so too can diet and exercise. (2) Since depression has been linked to low folate levels, a diet high in this B vitamin is advised; asparagus is one such healthy food high in folate. (2) Other foods rich in folate include spinach, Brussels sprouts, black-eyed peas, and avocado.(3) As for exercise, it's been shown to help elevate the feel-good endorphins associated with happiness and mood stabilization. (2)

Sources for this article include:

(1) http://www.npr.org

(2) http://www.amdblog.org

(3) http://ods.od.nih.gov/factsheets/Folate-HealthProfessional/

About the author:
A science enthusiast with a keen interest in health nutrition, Antonia has been intensely researching various dieting routines for several years now, weighing their highs and their lows, to bring readers the most interesting info and news in the field. While she is very excited about a high raw diet, she likes to keep a fair and balanced approach towards non-raw methods of food preparation as well. >>> Click here to see more by Antonia

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