Depressive And Anxiety Disorders In The Elderly Population

2186 words - 9 pages

Depressive and Anxiety Disorders in the Elderly Population

Acquiring a comprehensive understanding of the ailments encountered by the aging population is critical for properly providing the care that they require. Physical ailments, often easier to diagnose and treat are perceived to be the most prevalent hardships for aged people. However, studies show that a significant number of seniors are subject to mental illnesses. Thus, emphasizing the need for the important of mental health within the aging population. Though all mental illnesses have an unfavorable impact on the quality of one’s life, depressive and anxiety disorders tend to the most devastating for an elderly person.
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A large part of the senior population also experience a few symptoms of depression occasionally, but do not feel 5 or more symptoms over the course of two weeks as the depression diagnosis requires. Although the two ailments often have similarities in symptoms, it is important to note that they are two separate illnesses. However, the two diseases often co-exist in elderly patients.
Depression and anxiety disorders do not have definitive factors in the question of cause. Both depression and anxiety can occur due to psychological factors, environmental factors, and biological factors in the elderly population. Some possible triggers for depression in the elderly are: Serious chronic health problems or a new health problem, such as a fall or heart attack: biochemical changes, hormonal imbalances (hypothyroidism, hypoglycemia), loss of a loved one, enforced life changes, such as having to move to a new home or to a nursing home, and relationship strains with adult children or others. In addition to these, there are some types of medication that can also prove to be triggers for depressive disorders, such as: antihypertensive drugs (Reserpine, Inderal [propranolol], clonidine), cardiovascular medications (digitalis, diuretics), sedatives (barbiturates, benzodiazepines), steroids (corticosteroids, estrogens). Furthermore, some medical problems can cause symptoms of anxiety disorders including thyroid disease, congestive heart failure, dementia, Parkinson's disease, Cushing's disease, chronic obstructive lung disease (COPD), asthma, and hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). According to K. Walsh an estimate of 40 percent of the patients suffering from Parkinson’s diseases also experience clinical anxiety (2000). Also, some medications can also induce anxiety, such as thyroid hormones, caffeine, and ephedra.
Some elderly people are more inclined to be depressed than others. Depression is more prevalent in seniors who are: women, people over the age of 75, seniors admitted into nursing homes, seniors with low income and about 20–25 percent of people with serious diseases also suffer from depression, including patients with diabetes, heart attacks, strokes, and cancer. In relation to nursing home, Chapman & Perry state “One study of 539 older adults receiving health care in their homes found that about 13.5% were depressed according to diagnostic criteria, and a study of the medical records of 3710 nursing home patients found a 20.3% prevalence of depression (2007). Moreover, anxiety tends to be more common among elderly women and seniors with depressive disorders. In relations to age, depression and anxiety are both more frequent in the people under the age of 65. People with anxiety disorders have often has suffered from the disorder before reaching the senior years, and the problem is often a recurrence, a continuation, or a worsening of previous symptoms (that were often undiagnosed in the past).
Depressive and Anxiety disorders in the elderly...

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