In August 2020, nearly a quarter of adults 65 years and older reported anxiety or depression. However, among those 80 years and older, the rate was around 1 in 5. States statista.com
Anxiety and depression are as real as a diagnosis can get. Much like other illnesses, the capacity of the body to cope with these symptoms at a young age and at an older age is different. What might affect a young individual less may be quite problematic for a senior.
Therefore, if a senior is suffering from any form of anxiety or depression their symptoms and how they process this will be different. Of course, mental health is subjective to the sufferer but certain demographics affect the way humans respond to it.
Each age group has certain risk factors that make them more vulnerable to certain types of anxiety disorders. The spectrum is yet to be understood as the human mind is complex. Yet, with the information researchers and psychologists have been able to gather a lot can be done about one’s condition.
Risk Factors for Anxiety and Depression Disorders
Talking about risk factors. Following is a list of possible factors that can put a healthy adult at risk of depression and anxiety. Bear in mind that these conditions are complicated and there is no surefire way of determining their causes and effects.
- Chronic medical conditions (especially chronic obstructive pulmonary disease [COPD], cardiovascular disease including arrhythmias and angina, thyroid disease, and diabetes)
- Overall feelings of poor health
- Sleep disturbance
- Side effects of medications (i.e. steroids, antidepressants, stimulants, bronchodilators/inhalers, etc)
- Alcohol or prescription medication misuse or abuse
- Physical limitations in daily activities
- Stressful life events
- Negative or difficult events in childhood
- Excessive worry or preoccupation with physical health symptoms
Since most seniors suffer from some form of illness, it can trigger thoughts of anxiety, panic attacks, and depression in them as well. While the exact reason may not be evident, addressing the situation and handling it the correct way is necessary.
Anxiety Disorders And Their Symptoms
People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) suffer from the need to repeat actions or rituals. They also have recurrent thoughts that aren’t always positive. These are uncontrollable compulsions.
Actions, such as hand washing, counting, checking, or cleaning, are often done to prevent obsessive thoughts or make them go away.
This entails sudden attacks of terror where the sufferer may feel out of breath, shortness of breath chest pain, palpitations, and thoughts of dying. The sufferer may feel completely out of control and in a state of panic.
Post-traumatic Stress Disorder:
PTSD is characterized by persistent symptoms that occur after experiencing a traumatic event such as violence, abuse, natural disasters, or some other threat to a person’s sense of survival or safety.
Common symptoms include nightmares, flashbacks, numbing of emotions, depression, being easily startled, and feeling angry, irritable, or distracted.
Generalized Anxiety Disorder
Chronic, exaggerated worry about everyday routine life events and activities, lasting at least six months; almost always anticipating the worst even though there is little reason to expect it. Accompanied by physical symptoms, such as fatigue, trembling, muscle tension, headache, or nausea.
This is an irrational fear of objects, phenomena, colors, and anything else that would otherwise not be threatening. There are several branches of this disorder that can affect different aspects of one’s life.
The triggers for this particular disorder aren’t clear. However, once developed it needs to be addressed before it can interrupt one’s ability to live a normal life.
Effects Of Anxiety Disorder On Seniors
- Generalized anxiety disorder is the most common disorder in the adult community. Seniors often suffer from this condition as they age and lose control over their routine life. While the causes may be genetic or environmental in nature as well, the treatment of the said disorder is what must be monitored and administered accordingly.
That said, the following are a few effects that an older adult with anxiety may suffer:
- Rational thinking
More often than not seniors tend to overreact or don’t respond the way others would. While this may be correlated to aging, anxiety can also be the cause of such behavior. They can easily get erratic and adopt behaviors that can be threatening to themselves and those around them.
In case such behaviors become frequent it is better to subscribe to supervision and get assistance from professionals.
- Hot flashes and Palpitations
This is one of the most common effects of experiencing anxiety. Older adults may also feel these symptoms due to their health but if these are frequent without other symptoms then it is better to look for anxiety treatments.
Seniors often complain of feeling suffocated or not enjoying a particular situation. Therefore, it is better to consider anxiety than to disregard it as a consequence of their health.
This is a common indication of anxiety. Being anxious prompts older individuals to repeat behaviors, instructions stories, and more. It can become problematic for those around them. The best way to deal with such behaviors is to opt for a talk therapist’s help.
They can help patients align their thoughts with others’ actions and help them understand that they are still in control despite what they may feel. For some, the loss of control in one part of their life translates into anxiety for other aspects of their lives.
- Fail to Eat or Sleep
As one grows old one often finds it difficult to continue life as it were. This includes sleeping and eating adequately. However, if there is no physical or medically diagnosed reason for this, it is better to find help from a psychologist.
Who Can Help?
Experts at Heartfelt companions Caregivers can help you understand the symptoms the patient is suffering and find ways to ensure they are treated for their illness. If you aren’t sure of the symptoms and their effects speak to an expert.