There is a known link between anxiety, depression and aging in the elderly. The elderly are at an increased risk for depression, but it is not a normal part of aging. Depression is far more severe than feeling down. Depression can last for months, and not only does it have a psychological toll, but a physical one as well.
Anxiety can also affect older adults and although it’s prevalent in the elderly, it is an area lacking information, so many seniors do not receive the proper treatment they require.
Anxiety and depression can often be overlooked in the elderly as they can be confused with many other ailments that strike seniors, such as dementia, so more information and data must come out about psychological disorders and seniors in order to make doctors and patients more aware of how to approach treatment. Furthermore, having depression or anxiety in older age can lead to additional health complications and increase a person’s risk of death.
As mentioned, although depression rates are high among the elderly, it is not a normal part of aging. Depression may often go undiagnosed due to stigma, lack of knowledge from caregivers or doctors, or being misdiagnosed as a symptom of another condition.
In order to properly diagnose depression, it’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms. Typical signs of depression include:
Older adults have higher suicide rates than younger adults. Of every 100,000 older adults over the age of 75, 16.3 died as a result of suicide compared to 11.3 suicides in the general population.
It’s important to properly diagnose depression in seniors to prevent suicide and worsening health.
One study has found that anxiety disorders may affect aging by speeding it up. The researchers found that people with anxiety disorders have shorter telomeres, which are a known marker of aging. The results were compared with individuals without anxiety disorders.
First author, Josine Verhoeven, said, “In the Netherlands Study of Depression and Anxiety, we had the opportunity to look at telomere length in over 2300 persons with and without anxiety disorders. Our results show that persons with a current anxiety disorder on average had shorter telomere length, although cause and effect remain to be explored.”
The analysis looked at 1,283 adults with anxiety disorders, 459 with remitted anxiety disorders, and 582 control participants without any psychological disorders. Leukocyte telomere length (LTL) was assessed to determine aging.
After adjusting for factors thst contribute to aging, those with anxiety disorders were also found to have shorter LTL, which indicated at least three to five years of advanced aging.
Managing depression and anxiety are important for anyone at any age, especially with seniors as it can contribute to many other complications as well. Here are some tips to better manage depression and anxiety in seniors.
Treatment for depression and anxiety often revolves around medications, such as antidepressants and anti-anxiety medications. These medications are intended to manage symptoms, but they do come with cautions; seniors are often on many other types of medication, so the risk of a drug interaction increases. Always check and speak with your doctor when it comes to taking medications in order to avoid complications.
Therapy, too, can be effective in treating depression and anxiety. A professional therapist can work with you independently or in a group setting to help you overcome underlying causes for your depression or anxiety or offer coping mechanisms to help you better manage day-by-day. Therapists are trained to help you change your behavior and thinking in order to become mentally well again.
If you feel that you may be suffering from depression or anxiety, it’s important to reach out to someone – don’t suffer in silence. The earlier mental disorders are discovered, the better the odds are of a full recovery.
Pet therapy for seniors in assisted living can help with depression and mood disorders. Pet therapy is a form of therapy that utilizes animals to help individuals cope with health problems. Pet therapy can involve just about any animal – although cats and dogs are most common – and can be beneficial for recovery from heart disease, cancer and mental health disorders. Continue reading…
Sleep deprivation has been linked to higher levels of stress and depression. Today, life stress and the general hubbub of modern society can keep us up at night. And for caffeine-fueled North Americans – with smartphones and tablets at their bedsides – sleeping may seem like a waste of time, to the extent that sleep deprivation has become the norm, rather than the exception. Continue reading…