Is it Normal to Get Depressed or Anxious as You Age?

Anxiety and depression aren’t a natural part of aging and no one has to accept them. In fact, mood and anxiety disorders become less common as people age. Detection rates are also lower among older adults, because they’re less likely to seek assistance for mental health issues. So it’s important for those around them to pay attention and offer help if they see a problem.

Who Struggles with Major Depression?

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that only between 1 and 5% of older adults living in the community struggle with major depression. Older women are more likely to suffer from mood and anxiety disorders and older men tend to develop more substance abuse problems.

What Puts People at Risk?

Most older adults are not depressed, But those with a medical illness that impacts mobility and quality of life are most at risk. The following conditions, in particular, are associated with an increased risk of a mood disorder:

  • Heart disease
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • High blood pressure
  • A disability
  • A new medical illness
  • Poor self-perceived health

What to do About Changing Behavior and Attitudes?

If you notice any changes, there are several things you can do to help:

  • Never ignore suicidal comments
  • Call 911 if you suspect someone is in crisis
  • Offer support and encouragement
  • Listen carefully
  • Invite them out for walks
  • Involve them in other activities
  • Remind them that depression will lessen with time and treatment

Source: Cleveland Clinic

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