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by Katherine Bengan

While we all can experience anxiety and depression at times, if it becomes disruptive to your life, it is time to take it seriously. If you are so anxious that you cannot leave your house, for example, this is a sign of anxiety disorder and needs to be treated. Anxiety and depression are not a normal part of getting older even though it affects more people over the age of 55 than any other age. One reason that seniors may experience anxiety or depression more than other ages is because they have had more losses, take more medications, and have more chronic pain and illnesses than those who are younger.

What is Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health conditions in adults in the United States. In fact, anxiety affects more than 40 million people in America every year. It can manifest itself in many ways and differs from person to person. However, it is typically a mental health condition that causes the sufferer to worry more about everyday things than they should. Some of the most common symptoms include:

  • Difficulty sleeping or staying asleep
  • Worrying too much about everyday things
  • Chest pain
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • Heart palpitations
  • Shortness of breath
  • Abdominal pain or indigestion
  • Sweating
  • Lack of appetite
  • Inability to make decisions
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Agitation, irritability
  • Shakiness, trembling
  • Feelings of impending doom

What is Depression?

Depression is a common mental health disorder that causes symptoms that can affect your mood, feelings, thoughts, behaviors, and daily activities. There are different types of depression such as persistent depressive disorder, seasonal affective disorder (SAD), postnatal depression, bipolar depression, and psychotic depression. However, those with depression usually have similar symptoms such as:

  • Sadness that lasts longer than two weeks
  • Feeling empty or lost
  • Chronic nonspecific pain, headaches, digestion issues, or cramps
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Waking up early
  • Inability to sleep
  • Sleeping too much
  • Talking or moving slower than normal
  • Restlessness or trouble staying still
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Loss of energy
  • Memory loss
  • Feeling helpless, worthless, or guilty
  • Frequent aggravation or irritability
  • Crying for no apparent reason
  • Inability to concentrate or make decisions
  • Losing interest in normal activities
  • Thoughts of suicide

What Are the Risk Factors?

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders in American adults and is thought to be caused by different things such as genes, environment, chemical imbalance in the brain, injury, hormonal imbalances, and some medical illnesses such as cancer, heart disease, or stroke. Those who are most susceptible to depression include:

  • Females (women 21% vs. men 12%)
  • Those with relatives who have mental health conditions
  • People with a hormonal or chemical imbalance
  • Those who are physically, mentally, or sexually abused
  • Individuals who abuse alcohol or drugs
  • People who have multiple illnesses such as the elderly or those with severe disease such as cancer or heart disease

What You Can Do

If you or someone you know is having symptoms of anxiety or depression, there are certain things you can do to help. Some of these include:

  • Eating a healthy diet
  • Exercise
  • Deep breathing
  • Make sure you get enough sleep
  • Smile and laugh, even if you do not want to
  • Talk therapy
  • Medication

If you are interested in talking to someone about your problem, you can talk to a therapist or counselor online and you do not even need an appointment. In fact, you can do it right now from your home with just your computer, phone, or tablet.


About the Author

Katherine-Bengan_0_0.jpgKatherine Bengan, RN MSN finished her bachelor of science in nursing Cum Laude and started to work as a Medical-Surgical Nurse at Philippine General Hospital. After a brief stay in the hospital setting, she started a career in the nursing academe as Clinical Instructor and Academic Coordinator for nursing courses like Medical-Surgical Nursing, Psychiatric Mental Health Nursing, and Nursing Informatics. Her clinical skills and exposure continued for 12 years in the hospital setting and the National Center for Mental Health in the Philippines. In 2016, she finished her Master's degree in electronic health management from Rome Business School. She has written numerous articles about mental health and different disorders. Currently, she's doing more freelancing work and spends time more with her family.

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