What older adults need to know about anxiety disorders
Everyone occasionally experiences some form of anxiety. However, extreme anxiety is not a normal part of getting older. Studies estimate that between 3 to 14 percent of older Americans are affected by phobias, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic attacks, social anxiety, generalized anxiety disorder, and related illnesses.
Although older adults are not necessarily more susceptible to anxiety disorders than others, these illnesses can be harder to diagnose and treat. The reasons? Severe anxiety may occur in conjunction with other illnesses, be mistaken for a side effect of medication, or be interpreted as a symptom of another medical problem.
Talk to your doctor if you feel yourself experiencing some of the following symptoms when feeling stressed:
- Rapid breathing
- Increased heart rate
One simple fact to remember if you are diagnosed with an anxiety disorder: Your feelings are not due to you not being strong enough to face life’s challenges. Rather, your feelings are caused by a chemical imbalance in your body that you can’t control. Know that there are programs and resources available to help you regain their health and well-being.
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