More than two million of the 34 million Americans age 65 and older suffer from some form of depression.
Source: Mental Health America
While the prevalence of most mental disorders increase from young adulthood to middle adulthood, it usually declines with age. But many older adults are at risk of developing mental disorders, neurological disorders or substance use problems as well as other health conditions such as diabetes, hearing loss, and osteoarthritis.
Until recently, doctors believed that anxiety disorders declined with age. That’s because older patients are less likely to report psychiatric symptoms and more likely to emphasize their physical complaints.
But experts now recognize that aging and anxiety are not mutually exclusive: Anxiety is as common among the old as among the young. In fact, many older adults with an anxiety disorder had one when they were younger.
Experts recognize that aging and anxiety are not mutually exclusive: Anxiety is as common among the old as among the young. In fact, many older adults with an anxiety disorder had one when they were younger.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common anxiety disorder among older adults, though anxiety disorders in this population are frequently associated with traumatic events such as a fall or acute illness.
Read about the fear of falling among older adults.
Learn how to recognize anxiety disorder symptoms in older adults.
Read the best way to treat anxiety disorders in older adults.
While major depression and mood disorders mostly affect younger adults, older adults with depressive symptoms often arise as result of health problems, bereavement, and loss of social contact. According to the National Institute of Health, almost 5% of seniors have experienced a major depressive disorder episode in the last year. Additionally, as illness associated with aging increases, so does the rate of depression—which, at 11.5% to 13.5%, is double that of the rest of the adult population.
Have an aging parent or relative? Get tips on talking to your mother or father about their anxiety.
Seniors Coping with Anxiety and Depression, ADAA Blog Post
State of the Science: Intervention for Anxiety in Older Adults, Upcoming live webinar (for mental health professionals)
Mental Illness Among Older Adults, Co-sponsored professional webinar with the National Behavior Council (On-Demand)
Behavioral Health Programs for Older Adults, National Council on Aging
The State of Mental Health and Aging in America, CDC.gov
The Mental Health of Older Adults World Health Oganization (WHO)
Older Adults and Mental Health, NIMH.gov
6 Ways You Can Help an Older Adult with Depression, Junomedical.com
New User-Friendly Apps Can Help Older Adults Manage Mental Issues, PsychCentral
Addressing Depression in Older Adults, Washington Times Herald
- Senior Living: How Depression Can Manifest Itself Later in Life, San Bernardino Sun
- Why Mental Illness is so Hard to Spot in Seniors, USNews.com
- Depression and Alzheimer’s, Harvard Medical School
- How Prevalent is Mental Illness Among Older Adults?, Psych Central
PTSD in Late Life: Special Issues, Psychiatric Times
- PTSD in Late Life, Psychiatric Times
- Suicide is on the Rise. Depression Therapy is Limited. Let’s Try Psychedelics., Dr. Ira Bayock, Washington Post