Health Alert: Seniors and Mental Illness

Mental illness is hard to spot in people. This is especially true for seniors. Part of the difficulty with identifying who may be suffering from a mental illness is the social stigma associated with mental illnesses and treatment for mental illnesses. If you yourself are experiencing cognitive decline because of aging or an underlying illness like Alzheimer’s Disease, it may be up to your close friends and family members to identify a potential problem and seek appropriate medical advice from a mental health provider.

1 in 5 adults aged 55 or order have had a mental health concern

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that over 20% of adults aged 55 years or older have had a mental health concern but only two-thirds of this group have received treatment.

Unaddressed mental health issues diminish quality of life

People suffering from mental health concerns report problems with their wellbeing. This in turn affects their overall physical health and potentially may complicate their medical treatment for other conditions. Untreated severe mental health issues may lead to a premature or earlier death for the afflicted person.

Depression and anxiety disorders affect seniors the most

Depression and anxiety disorders by far impact more seniors than any other ailments in the mental health area. These are separate conditions, different from the physical conditions that an individual may be experiencing. These conditions may arise on their own or be a side effect of another medical condition.

Depression vs. The Blues

Feelings of disappointment, sadness, loneliness, or grief when you experience a difficult situation or are in a middle of a life challenge is part of living and being human. The blues are not limited to an age group. Some people go through life without experiencing these feelings and then have them all pile up in old age as they or their loved ones succumb to illness and close relatives and friends die. If you are unable to bounce back after one of these challenges, you may be experiencing depression.

There are many kinds of depression. They include major depression, chronic depression, atypical depression, postpartum depression, bipolar depression, seasonal depression, bipolar depression, psychotic depression, and treatment-resistant depression.

For example, people who experience seasonal depression otherwise known as seasonal affective disorder have mood changes every year at the same time. Most of the time, this type of depression strikes in the late fall early winter months and lasts until Spring. Summer depression may also occur in the reverse beginning in late spring or early summer and ending in the fall.

How to see anxiety

Anxiety has a physical component. Symptoms almost always include stress that is out of proportion to the impact of the event. Mental E individual suffering from anxiety disorder are unable to stop worrying and are restless all the time. Physically however an individual is tired and experiencing fatigue or sweats without exerting any kind of physical activity. Insomnia, palpitations, or trembling are some other physical symptoms experienced by someone who is anxious.

Like depression, there are many types of anxiety disorders. The most common are generalized anxiety disorder, phobia, panic disorder, social phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Less common but devastating are bipolar disorders and eating disorders. To manage the most extreme symptoms of bipolar disorder medication may be necessary. Eating disorders require therapy and patient education for caregivers on nutrition and healthy eating practices.

If you or your loved one is experiencing depression or anxiety symptoms seek medical advice from your medical provider.

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