Symptoms of Mental Illness in Seniors

With age comes some onset mental health issues. Depression and mood disorders are widespread amongst older adults. Most of the time it goes undiagnosed and untreated, which only worsens the conditions. Of course the person going through it is often unaware of the mental illness. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, CDC, it is estimated that about 20% of adults 65 and older have one or more mental health conditions. There are some symptoms and risk factors to look out for and recognize when help is needed.

Risk Factors

One of the risk factors that can trigger mental illness, is alcohol abuse.
One of the risk factors that can trigger mental illness, is alcohol abuse.

One of the problems that make it hard to diagnose mental health issues, is the fact that seniors will complain about physical problems than psychiatric ones. There are some risk factors that can trigger mental illnesses.

  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Chronic pain or disease
  • Physical disabilities
  • Grief or the loss of partner
  • Loneliness/Social Isolation
  • Medication interactions
  • Malnutrition or poor diet
  • Change of environment or major changes
  • Dementia-causing illness

Symptoms of Mental Illness

Sometimes we become forgetful as we get older, but once it begins to occur more often, it is a sign something is wrong. The most common mental illnesses a senior will experience is bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, depression,

Social withdrawl is one of the symptoms of a mental illness.
Social withdrawl is one of the symptoms of a mental illness.

and eating disorders. There are some simple symptoms that can be a warning sign to a mental health issue. Signs to look for are:

  • Changes in appetite, and weight
  • Changes in appearance, including maintenance of home.
  • Short-term memory issues, or memory loss.
  • Change in mood, feeling depressed for longer than a week.
  • Stressed or worried feelings.
  • Trouble managing finances, or handling tasks with numbers.
  • Increased aggression, aggressive behavior.
  • Physical issues without explanation such as headaches, constipation, aches, etc.
  • Loss of energy, or sleep problems.
  • Suicidal thoughts, thoughts of helplessness, or worthlessness.
  • Losing interest in things you enjoy
  • Social withdrawal

When a mental illness is discovered in a senior early on, it makes the situation better, more treatable. It is important to talk to your doctor with any of these issues you are experiencing. The more proactive you are, the faster it is to treat and prevent further issues. The worst thing you or anyone can do is brush it off. Do not let something like this slide, we are talking about your health. You are the key to living a healthier life, physically and mentally. So if there is a concern, or you begin to notice changes in your mental state, don’t hesitate to seek help. Talk to a loved one, or your family doctor.

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