Adult Anxiety: What Is the Most Common Anxiety Disorder in Older Adults? - An online health& Fitness Blog to know more about health, fitness & food.

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Adult Anxiety: What Is the Most Common Anxiety Disorder in Older Adults?


Do you consider yourself an anxious person? If so, you may believe you struggle with an anxiety disorder.

But there's a big difference between feeling anxious or nervous and living with an anxiety disorder.

Being anxious is part of almost everyone's life. An anxiety disorder, on the other hand, is much more severe and affects the quality of one's life.

In the elderly, it can be even more difficult to tell the difference.

What Are Different Anxiety Disorders?

There are many categories of anxiety disorders.

For example, those with panic disorder experience frequent or chronic panic attacks that strike without warning. People who suffer from obsessive-compulsive disorder struggle with recurrent unwanted thoughts. They may also be driven to perform repeated rituals that feel out of their control.

One of the better-known anxiety disorders is post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. This is anxiety that results from experiencing a traumatic event and is characterized by persistent flashbacks, nightmares, irritability, and anger.

Phobias such as those of heights, spiders, storms, flying, or any other number of things are also considered anxiety disorders when they present as irrational, extreme, or even disabling fear of that object or situation.

And finally, there's generalized anxiety disorder. This shows up as exaggerated worry about everyday events and activities. Those who suffer from this will also experience sometimes paralyzing physical symptoms. These include nausea, trembling, headache, muscle tension, or fatigue.

It is this final disorder that most often affects the elderly.

Generalized Anxiety Disorder in the Elderly

For a long time, doctors assumed that there wasn't really anxiety in elderly people. They believed that anxiety disorders eased as people aged.

The physical symptoms that often go with generalized anxiety disorder were confused with other health conditions that are common among older adults. Thus, their complaints of physical ailments associated with their anxiety were written off as something else such as arthritis, digestive issues, or chronic fatigue.

The doctors now know better. It turns out that anxiety is as common among the elderly as it is in the rest of the population. It's just that the elderly are less likely to report psychiatric symptoms. They see doing so as a sign of weakness.

In some cases, elderly people with generalized anxiety disorder may have had it when they were younger. In other cases though, anxiety disorders among the elderly can also be the result of experiencing an event such as an acute illness or a fall.

How Can You Help an Older Adult?

If not addressed, generalized anxiety disorder in older adults can jeopardize their overall health. So if they're showing symptoms of any anxiety disorder, it's important you encourage them to visit their primary care physician to discuss them.

Their physician should be able to determine the source and then discuss a mental healthcare plan (therapy, medication, etc.) that will help ease those symptoms. Then you'll both be able to rest easier.

For more great articles on living your best life, keep checking back with our health blog.

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