Anxiety in the Elderly

Anxiety is a common accompaniment of major depression.

Older patients who experience major depression also meet the criteria for generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) in more than 50% of the cases. In addition, some older persons meet the criteria for panic disorder.

Anxiety symptoms may be secondary to appropriate fear in threatening situations.

  • Older adults living in urban settings often fear being attacked as they walk the streets.
  • Those with memory loss who live alone may fear that they will get lost driving to the doctor’s office.
  • Individuals who have lost the acuteness of their reflexes fear driving on busy, crowded highways.

Medical causes of anxiety in the elderly

  • Hyperthyroidism
  • Cardiac arrhythmia
  • Pulmonary emboli
  • Hypoglycemia
  • Medications
  • Caffeine
  • Over-the-counter sympathomimetic drugs
  • Anticholinergic agents
  • Withdrawal from anti-anxiety medications

People with anxiety can also experience panic attacks. This is a discrete period of intense fear or discomfort, in which four (or more) of the following symptoms developed abruptly and reached a peak within 10 minutes:

Heart:

  • Palpitations
  • Chest Pain
  • Nausea

Breath:

  • Shortness of Breath
  • Choking
  • Dizziness
  • Parasthesias (numbness/tingling)
  • Hot/cold waves

Fear:

  • of Dying
  • of Going Crazy
  • Sweating
  • Shaking
  • Derealization/Depersonalization

Resource

Our geriatric psychiatrist, Dr. David Merrill, offers kind, compassionate, thorough clinical evaluations and follows depression treatment guidelines, helping the patient to stay connected with the activities and people who matter to them. Contact us at 310-582-7641 to schedule a consultation.

Depression

Insomnia