Mental health issues are the silver tsunami of the Baby Boomer generation. Poor mental health may be unrecognized as the crisis it is, due to the nature of mental health, often undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.
I have worked extensively with geriatric patients of multiple diagnoses. Mental health is always a player. Anxiety and depression are big medical issues for the aging from midlife onward. Mental health disorders in the elderly include psychiatric symptoms with some relationship to dementia: substance abuse disorder, depressive disorders, anxiety and depression.
The most common mental health issue is anxiety. There are four categories of anxiety:
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
- Social Anxiety Disorder
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Generalized Anxiety Disorder
The extent to which a person suffers from any or all of these conditions is the result of factors including genetics, environment, life style. Within life style are variables including:
- Diet: how healthy or unhealthy the foods we choose, contributes to mental health at any age.
- Consistent sleep: Try it. It’s wonderful! If it doesn’t work for you naturally, seek medical help.
- Exercise: People who are active physically have a better outlook on life.
- Stress: This is a tough issue as no two individual stress thresholds are alike. Try to recognize what you cannot change and adapt your reaction. Give the situation a new frame. Take a deep, slow breath, and let go of the ugly stress demon.
Life is complicated as we mature. Adapting is the best we can do. Symptoms of the above disorders manifest over time. Generally, the onset of anxiety is around the age of 35 and is progressive. Anyone who has struggled with difficult children, marital trouble, death, cancer, or any traumatic incident can attest to the anguish of anxiety.
Midlife anxiety is treatable. The first step to treatment is to identify the issue. Feel no shame; then seek a therapist. Prepare to spend time learning cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) to change mindsets and associated behaviors. Overcoming generalized anxiety will not happen in a day. The good news is; you are not alone. Millions suffer and deal every day with mild to severe symptoms of anxiety.