All ages can suffer from mental health issues.  But, those 55 or older are more at risk for mental health concerns than the younger population.  In fact, 20% of people in this age range sufferfrom some type of mental health concern.  Anxiety or depression are among the most common.

Men over 85 are most at risk for suicide than younger generations or women.  About 45 out of every 100,000 elders commit suicide, which is most often the result of an elderly mental issue.

The biggest problem with mental illness in the elderly is, perhaps, the things we don't understand about it.  There are often stigmas asociated with mental health.  For example, portrayals we see on television or in movies make thsoe with mental illness seem frightening.  This leads to a lack of desire to talk about mental illness, and instead, it  gets swept under the rug.

Seniors, additionally, have to confront ageism.  People often dismiss concerning behaviors in seniors as effects of aging.  In reality, there are important differences between aging and elderly mental health concerns.  Not knowing the differences can seriously affect a senior's well-being.

Symptoms of mental illness in seniors may include:

  • Changes in a regular care routine, lack of concern for appearance
  • Signs of severe memory loss, like repeatedly asking the same questions
  • Significant mood changes, like exhibiting more worry or confusion than before
  • Lack of social desire
  • Severe weight gain or loss
  • Changes in sleep patterns, lack of energy, or extreme fatigue

These are just general symptoms to look for.  If you notice any of these symptoms its time to talk to a  doctor.

Some common symptoms of anxiety:

  • Fatigue and changes in sleep patterns
  • Difficulty concentrating and remembering information
  • Consistently feeling on-edge
  • Tense muscles and frequent headaches
  • Feeling out of control of the worry
  • Difficulty talking to or being around others
  • Frequent nausea

People often think of depression as a commin symptom of aging.  Instead, it's a serious condition of its own.  It impacts everyday life for a senior, physically, socially, and emotionally.  Depression is one of the common elderly mental disorders that often goes undiagnosed.

Here are common depression symptoms:

  • Weight gain or loss, overeating or loss of appetite
  • Consisten pessimism or talking down to oneself: lack of confidence
  • Low energy, changing sleep patterns, and fatigue
  • Confusion, difficulty remembering details, and difficulty concentration
  • Decreased interest in past hobbies
  • Continuous pains, like stomach aches, cramping, or headaches, with no underlying medical cause
  • Talk of suicide or a suicide attempt

The most common treatmens of senior mental illness:

  • Psychological interventions and therapies
  • Prescription medications
  • Exercise
  • Support Groups

Reach out to a friend or family member that may need your support or help with these issues.  Contact a doctor or mental health provider for assistance (www.find-a-therapist.com).  See more information on this topic on www.shieldmysenior.com.