Mental illness in seniors under-diagnosed Facts about mental illness in the elderly
You might not be surprised to read that the most common mental health issue among the elderly is severe cognitive impairment or dementia.
Depression and mood disorders are also fairly widespread among older adults, and disturbingly, they often go undiagnosed and untreated. In a 2006 survey, 5% of seniors 65 and older reported having current depression, and about 10.5% reported a diagnosis of depression at some point in their lives (CDC).
Often going along with depression in many individuals, anxiety is also one of the more prevalent mental health problems among the elderly. Anxiety disorders encompass a range of issues, from obsessive-compulsive disorder (including hoarding syndrome) to phobias to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). About 7.6% of those over 65 have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, reports the CDC.
Causes and Risk Factors for Senior Mental IllnessOne of the ongoing problem with diagnosis and treatment of mental illness in seniors is the fact that older adults are more likely to report physical symptoms than psychiatric complaints (CDC).The Geriatric Mental Health Foundation lists a number of potential triggers for mental illness in the elderly:
Long-term illness (e.g., heart disease or cancer)
Dementia-causing illness (e.g. Alzheimer's disease)
Physical illnesses that can affect thought, memory, and emotion (e.g. thyroid or adrenal disease)
Change of environment, like moving into assisted living
Illness or loss of a loved one
Alcohol or substance abuse
Poor diet or malnutrition