As we age, we tend to have more worries. We worry about our children, our parents, our finances and our health. How we’ll care for ourselves as we age is another worry. While some worry is normal, when it starts to take over your life, it becomes anxiety. Anxiety, if untreated, can lead to phobias and an inability to handle the normal everyday stresses that life throws at us.
Anxiety has been increasing in seniors. It may be combined with depression or other mental illnesses. Sometimes chronic illness can add to depression in seniors. Sometimes they have been living with it for years, untreated.
There are three main types of anxiety:
GAD or Generalized Anxiety Disorder
- GAD is one of the most common forms of anxiety. It affects more than 7 million adults in the United States alone. Those with generalized anxiety disorder experience excessive worry and are unable to control it. Quite often their worries revolve around things that aren’t serious. Those with GAD may have muscle tension, sleep disturbances and problems concentrating.
- Panic disorder is characterized by anxiety so extreme that those who suffer from it experience what are called panic attacks. During these attacks their heart pounds. They may have problems breathing. They may be unable to think clearly. Panic attacks tend to happen randomly. Those with a panic disorder may eventually develop agoraphobia. This is a fear which leads them to avoid a place or situation where a panic attack occurred.
Social Anxiety Disorder
- Social anxiety disorder is connected to social situations. It may be mild and cause those with the disorder to worry about meeting new people. It can also be extreme. In extreme cases, those with social anxiety disorder will do whatever they can do avoid others. Overall, socializing is an issue.
If you notice a loved one who tends to have bouts of extreme worry or fear that interferes with living their life in a healthy way, speak with their healthcare provider. There are many ways to manage anxiety disorders now. For more information on anxiety and depression in seniors, click here.