As life expectancies increase and the U.S. population ages, mental health among older adults is becoming a major public health concern. Anxiety is particularly prevalent among this demographic and has been directly linked to increased mortality. Unfortunately, older Americans are not getting the mental health screenings they need to diagnose and treat conditions such as anxiety.
The most common form of mental health screening in the US is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) administered at primary care centers, where older adults are most likely to receive care. Unfortunately, DSM screening is not particularly useful for older patients as symptoms of anxiety and other mental illnesses can easily be confused with the changes that come with aging. As a result, these conditions can go unrecognized, creating a higher risk of mortality and other physical health problems.
Another factor that likely contributes to under-screening of older Americans for mental health issues is the lack of an effective way to do so. Currently, the most commonly used screening tool is the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ-9). While this is a useful tool for diagnosing depression, it is not entirely appropriate for use with older adults, as its items are designed to assess acute symptoms and older adults may exhibit anxiety differently than younger individuals. In fact, many studies have shown that older patients often under-report the severity of their symptoms. Additionally, the PHQ-9 does not address cognitive symptoms that are noticeably common in this demographic.
Given the high prevalence of anxiety among the elderly and its associated mortality risk, screening for this condition is especially vital for this population. It is important for health care providers to be aware of the limitations of current screening methods and to receive additional training in recognizing anxiety symptoms among their older patients. Screening tools that are specifically developed to detect anxiety in older adults should also be developed and employed in primary care centers. In addition, education campaigns should be launched to help older adults recognize the signs of anxiety and encourage them to seek help. Without these measures, the issue of under-screening of the elderly population with respect to anxiety will remain a serious concern. [ad_1]
“With a typical problem that triggers a ton of impairment of high-quality of daily life and that has uncomplicated, cheap, easy kinds of remedy, I think screening is termed for,” he included.
Whichever the remaining undertaking power recommendation, the discussion of stress in older folks highlights a common but usually disregarded psychological wellbeing worry. “A whole lot of these conditions fly underneath the radar,” Dr. Andreescu mentioned.
That may possibly reflect the way symptoms of anxiety can differ between older men and women, whose primary care health professionals generally deficiency the training to identify psychological health ailments. In addition to critical fret, seniors frequently knowledge sleeplessness or irritability they could produce a anxiety of slipping, engage in hoarding or complain of physical discomforts like muscle stress, a choking feeling, dizziness or shakiness.
But underdiagnosis also stems from older patients’ reluctance to ascribe their problems to psychological challenges. “Some resent a label of ‘anxious,’” Dr. Andreescu explained. “They’d fairly simply call it ‘high pressure,’ something that doesn’t suggest psychological weak point.”
And because growing old requires legitimate sources of concern and distress, from falls to bereavement, individuals may possibly see nervousness as usual, as Ms. Tilton did.
It has severe consequences, on the other hand. “It has an affect on the health and fitness of our brains and our bodies,” Dr. Andreescu mentioned. Scientific studies have demonstrated connections between nervousness and cardiovascular ailment, with greatly amplified risks of coronary coronary heart sickness, heart failure, stroke and death. Clients with bigger stress levels are a lot more very likely to interact in material abuse, as well.
Analysis also consistently demonstrates that nervousness is connected to cognitive drop and dementia. Dr. Andreescu’s neuroimaging research have found that “anxiety really shrinks and ages the mind,” she claimed.