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3 Common Mental Health Issues in Seniors

Blog-Graphic.08.20.21

As we age, we tend to focus on our physical health, but mental health is just as important. Many symptoms of mental health issues are frequently mistaken as signs of aging. Educate yourself to know the difference so you can support your loved one in the best way possible.

Depression

Depression is one of the most prevalent mental health issues in older adults. It is a mood disorder characterized by persistent sadness, depressed mood, or loss of interest in activities. Depression can cause significant impairment in a person's daily life by affecting how one acts, feels, or thinks.

Symptoms may include:

  • Problems sleeping
  • Noticeable distancing from previously enjoyed activities
  • Chronic pain
  • Decreased energy or fatigue
  • Loss of interest in once enjoyable activities

Common Types:

  • Major Depression- severe symptoms that can impact your ability to work, sleep, eat, and concentrate. Some may experience a single episode, and some may have multiple in their lifetime.
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder or Dysthymia- symptoms are less serve than those of major depression but can last for at least two years.
  • Minor Depression- symptoms are less severe than those of major depression and dysthymia and are more multiple short-term episodes.

Anxiety

Many different mental health issues are under the category of anxiety disorders. Anxiety is normal to feel in stressful situations, but when a person has an all-consuming, excessive worry that interferes with their life, it is an indicator they have a form of anxiety.

Symptoms may include:

  • Muscle tension
  • Excessive worry
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty falling/staying asleep
  • Increased nervousness or unease

Common Types:

  • Panic Disorder- characterized by panic attacks or a sudden feeling of terror. Physical symptoms can range from chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath, dizziness, and discomfort.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder- is characterized by unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or rituals (compulsions) that a person may feel they cannot control. Performing these rituals, like hand washing, counting, checking, or cleaning are done to make the thoughts go away.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)- is a disorder that happens when a person has difficulty recovering from experiencing or witnessing a traumatizing event. Symptoms range from nightmares, avoidance of certain situations that can trigger flashbacks, heightened reactions, anxiety or depression, or unwanted memories from the trauma.
  • Social Anxiety- is a condition in which social interactions can cause a person to feel anxious or self-conscious. Some symptoms may include fear of being judged, a concern of offending someone, worry about humiliation, or nervousness to approach a person.
  • Phobia- a disabling, irrational fear that poses little to no actual danger. Extreme fear can cause people to limit their lives by avoiding certain objects and situations.

Eating Disorders-

Eating disorders are usually (and incorrectly) considered a young woman's disease. However, its prevalence has increased in the senior population. It may be that many seniors who suffer from disordered eating have actually been affected for some time and have been able to function through it, but not all. Many who suffer from eating disorders have a distorted body image or the constant fear of being overweight. It can be difficult to diagnose in older adults because some symptoms are considered a part of aging.

Symptoms may include:

  • Noticeable weakness
  • Unexplained fluctuation in weight
  • Loss of appetite
  • Unusual behavior around food or mealtimes
  • Skipping meals or avoiding eating in front of others

Common Types:

  • Anorexia- people with this disorder tend to view themselves as overweight, even if they are not. They also may have a constant fear of gaining weight. A person may monitor their weight by avoiding eating certain types of foods, having various purging behaviors, or severely restricting their calorie intake.
  • Bulimia- Bulimia consists of binge-eating or consuming an unusually large amount of food in one sitting. This binge-eating usually continues until the person becomes painfully full because they feel that they cannot stop or control how much they are consuming.

Here at Evergreen Senior Living in Decatur, we know how important physical and mental health care is for our residents. Our caregivers are highly trained and ready to support your loved one in every way possible. Visit our website or call today to schedule an appointment to learn more about our services and campus. 

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