A common but often under-diagnosed problem with many seniors is a condition called Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD). If you are a senior (or you are taking care of an elderly person), there are some good reasons to look out for the signs that anxiety is robbing you (or your loved one) of the enjoyment of life.
There are some medical and counseling treatments that can help you combat this disabling condition:
Causes of Anxiety Disorders
Generalized anxiety disorder affects an estimated 7% of the senior population, and this is over twice the percentage of the elderly that are living with depression alone. Some seniors with GAD have been dealing with it since they were young, and it has returned or intensified as they grow older. Some factors that exacerbate it include:
- Feeling vulnerable due to crime, aging, and health issues.
- Experiencing grief and personal losses.
- Feeling a lack of social support.
- Experiencing depression.
- Experiencing traumatic events.
- Having a lack of financial resources.
- Using caffeine, alcohol, and illegal drugs.
- Experiencing side effects of over-the-counter or prescribed medications.
Signs and Symptoms of GAD
Anxiety often manifests in physical symptoms with older persons and it may overlap with the symptoms of depression.
Some signs and symptoms include:
- Hyper-vigilance (being overly watchful and easily startled).
- Difficulties with focus and concentration.
- Difficulties with memory.
- Short attention span.
- Feeling agitated or irritated much of the time.
- Chest or abdominal pain and shortness of breath.
As a senior, you may also become obsessed with routine and feel rattled when it is disrupted. This will interfere with your social life and make you feel more isolated than before,
An antidepressant such as the SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) type can be prescribed for you and after a period of weeks it may prove to be very effective. Some anti-anxiety drugs with sedating properties used for younger people are generally avoided with seniors because these can interfere with other medications you could be taking for health conditions.
If you are not taking any other medications that would be a problem, then one of these may be of use to you.
CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) is also very helpful and will increase the effectiveness of the medical treatment. This type of counseling teaches you to identify thoughts that cause fearful feelings, and to talk back to those thoughts or replace them with more optimistic ones. To learn more, contact a company like Psychological Associates of PA with any questions or concerns you have.