When it comes to aging, anxiety and depression run rampant. Just because individuals are getting older does not mean that they do not experience the same challenges that everyone else faces. When aging, anxiety and depression can become serious factors that possess the potential to change the course of an individual’s life. Being aware of how aging can cause anxiety and depression to develop can be helpful in mitigating it.
How Does Aging Cause Anxiety?
With each new phase in life, it can be difficult to navigate the transition. It is no different for those who are aging and entering into the final stages of their lives. The aging process alone can easily cause older individuals to become anxious for a number of reasons.
Fear of Injury or Illness
Getting older means that the body does not function as well as it used to. While this is normal, it is certainly not ideal, especially for those experiencing it. Two of the greatest concerns shared among those who are aging are getting hurt or getting sick. It is extremely common for older individuals to get hurt and/or get sick, and many people within this age range likely know more than one person who has experienced an injury or illness. They may even know peers who have died as a result. This can make doing daily things more overwhelming. For example, simply seeing a caution sign in one of the aisles in the grocery store might trigger a sense of potential danger as one gets older. Or, becoming easily fatigued may make them think an underlying health condition is developing. These fears are real and they can lead into the development of anxiety.
With aging often comes retirement. At this time, individuals are no longer working to bring in their income, rather living off what they have earned during their more productive years. This can be an uneasy feeling for many, especially those who may not have as much to live off of as they once envisioned. A hyperfocus can be put on what they spent and why, as well as how much money is left in the bank for the remainder of their lives. Constantly worrying about this factor can trigger the onset of anxiety disorder symptoms.
Thoughts of Death
It is no secret that as we get older, the closer we come to death. This is the natural progression of life, and while it is natural, it is still frightening to many. Those who are elderly are forced to think differently than they have before, as the amount of time that lies ahead of them is shorter than the amount of time that lies behind them. Wondering what happens when death occurs, who will be responsible for left-behind belongings, etc. can keep older individuals up at night, depriving them of sleep and peace of mind. The fear of the unknown can cause symptoms of anxiety to flare up, making every day life more complicated.
How Does Aging Cause Depression?
Similar to how aging can cause anxiety, it can also cause depression. In fact, some older individuals might experience both conditions at the same time. Depression can develop in the elderly population as a result of many various factors.
Loss of Loved Ones
Losing a loved one at any age can trigger the onset of depression. But, as individuals grow older, their social circles tend to get smaller. When someone within that circle passes away, it can be a major loss and a stark reminder of the inevitable. This is especially true when the deceased was extremely close to the individual, such as their spouse or a sibling. Depression can set in as a result of morbid thoughts and loneliness that stems from no longer having a close companion around.
Many elderly individuals experience health problems, with a large portion of them developing serious health conditions. Being diagnosed with a terminal disease, such as Alzheimer’s disease or cancer, can make the future appear bleak for an older individual. Going through treatments for diseases like cancer can also weaken their physical and emotional reserve to a point where they no longer want to engage in life. As their conditions continue, the depression can become more pervasive, making it even harder to treat.
Older generations tend to keep their feelings to themselves as a sign of strength. Today, feelings are viewed as being highly valuable and people are encouraged to share them. But, for older individuals, this is not something that most are comfortable with. As a result, they may not share how they feel but instead allow their emotions to build up inside them. This can easily result in feeling overwhelmed and depressed. Refusal to speak to a professional about mental health issues can also make this factor even more dangerous.
Mental Health Treatment in Florida
If someone you love is experiencing a problem with depression, anxiety, or any other mental health issue, contact us to learn more about how My Psychiatrist can help. You do not need to go through this alone. We are here to support you or your loved one the entire way.