Like much of the Western world, the US has an aging population. The number of Americans over the age of 65 is likely to double in the next 40 years, and this number will have serious implications on the healthcare system.
According to the World Health Organization, 15% of adults over the age of 60 have a mental disorder. Caring for the mental health of America’s older population will become increasingly difficult as the elderly population grows. This is one reason why it’s so important to keep an eye on your mental health as you age. Keeping mentally healthy will reduce the strain on mental health services and will also allow you to live a fuller and happier life.
Depression and Anxiety in Seniors
Depression is the most common mental health problem in older people, and people over the age of 85 actually have the highest rates of suicide of any age group. Anxiety is also a common problem among the elderly, and it can have a big impact on quality of life.
Symptoms of Depression and Anxiety
Some of the most common symptoms of depression include:
• A general “low” feeling
• Lack of enjoyment in things you normally like
• Sleeping poorly, or sleeping too much or too little
• A loss of appetite
• Self-critical thoughts
• Feelings of tiredness
• Feelings of worthlessness
• Thoughts of suicide
If you’re exhibiting any of these symptoms over a long period of time—more than a couple of weeks—you may have depression.
The symptoms of anxiety differ and can include:
• Feelings of nervousness about day-to-day activities
• A dry mouth
• A racing heartbeat
• Panic attacks
Anxiety and depression often occur simultaneously, so you might experience a combination of these symptoms.
Coping with Anxiety and Depression
Feeling anxious and/or depressed can be debilitating, and it’s often difficult to take the first step in seeking help.
Suppose you are experiencing any symptoms of anxiety or depression over an extended period of time (a couple of weeks or more). In that case, your first port of call should be to talk to somebody, whether this is a friend, a family member, or healthcare professional. Talking your problems through with somebody can make you feel a little better and a little less alone.
Talk to a Doctor
If you talk to a doctor about how you feel, they may recommend some steps to take to help you ease your symptoms. They might prescribe you anti-anxiety medication or antidepressants. These can help you get back on your feet if you’re struggling on a day-to-day basis.
Your doctor may also give you advice on how to cope with bereavement or battle loneliness, two common causes of depression among seniors. If you’re feeling lonely, your doctor might recommend moving into a senior living St Louisretirement facility, allowing for a more active social life with people your age.
The most important thing to remember is that you’re not alone if you’re struggling with your mental health. There is always somebody you can turn to, whether that’s a friend, a family member, or a medical professional. Help is at hand; all you need to do is ask.