Anxiety Treatments Best For Seniors

Do you feel an overwhelming sense of worry, panic and stress every day over every little thing? Do you often fear leaving your home, aka “Agoraphobia”, or that the worst will happen, or that you might fall and get injured? Then you may have some form of anxiety disorder.

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Anxiety is the most prevalent mental health disorder in the US. It has several types and various initial causes, and depression often comes hand in hand with it. It can afflict anyone of any age, but sadly, many seniors tend to get it worse than younger people. This is partly because they no longer have all the abilities and coping mechanisms that they once had in their youth, such as running, enjoying their favorite foods, socializing with friends, being physically and/or mentally fit, etc.
Anxiety

Signs And Symptoms Of Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

Seniors don’t always want to reach out for help, or they simply can’t accept the fact that they need help to begin with because they don’t want to feel shame or embarrassment.

The signs and symptoms of all types of anxiety disorders vary greatly. They have some similar symptoms, such as fear and worry, but each type also has defining characteristics that make it easier for mental health professionals to diagnose correctly.
It’s crucial to know that, just like depression or any other kind of mental health disorder, every person diagnosed with an anxiety disorder may have only some of the known symptoms, or they may have all of them.

These are some of the tell-tale signs of GAD specifically:
– being overly anxious
– being easily startled
– difficulty relaxing
– trouble concentrating
– difficulty falling and staying asleep
– irritability
– restlessness
– feeling “on edge” or tense

Apart from various mental or physical conditions, anxiety and/or depression can also be a bad side effect of certain psychiatric medications, including those that are prescribed to seniors.

There are quite a few treatment options available to fight off your anxiety symptoms, such as various natural remedies and relaxing exercises. Mental health professionals usually only prescribe drugs and medications for severe cases, or if nothing else has worked. Listed below are some of the best anxiety treatments for seniors.

Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy involves communicating, expressing your thoughts and feelings, getting that weight off your shoulders, and working together with a mental health professional to understand what is causing your anxiety disorder and what you can do about it. Studies have found that a type of psychotherapy called cognitive-behavioral therapy is also very beneficial.

Deep Breathing And Mindfulness Exercises

When you breathe deeply, you get more carbon dioxide in your blood, which soothes the parts of the brain responsible for anxiety. Deep breathing also stimulates your parasympathetic nervous system, which helps you to calm yourself and relax.

To combine mindfulness with deep breathing exercises, focus on how your body feels with each inhale and exhale. Keep your attention on your breathing, and gently redirect your mind back to your breathing if it wanders.

Increase Your Physical Activity

Seniors often don’t get enough exercise due to physical limitations or disabilities. But if you are physically fit and able, working out, taking walks and getting more exercise in general are very affective in managing stress, anxiety and depression because it releases “feel good” hormones into your bloodstream and distracts you from your worries. Listen to music while you’re at it for an extra boost.

Diet Changes

Proper nutrition is critical for your mental and physical health. Eating a balanced diet of protein, healthy fats, and carbohydrates will help you manage anxious thoughts. Make sure you eat a variety of healthy foods at every meal. Keep snack indulgences to a minimum.

Some substances and stimulants are directly linked to increased anxiety, such as caffeine and nicotine. Avoid smoking and consuming large doses of caffeine to help keep your mind and body relaxed.

Counseling

Counseling is highly effective for treating anxiety disorders, and people of all ages and backgrounds can benefit from working with a counselor. Many seniors find it easier to speak with an unbiased professional about their mental health struggles than with friends or family. During your counseling sessions, you and your therapist will figure out the triggers of your anxiety. Then, you can work together to create a plan to manage the anxious feelings as they arise. The more you practice these skills, the easier it will become to dismiss anxious thoughts.

Final Thoughts

You can beat anxiety and live a full and active life. But always remember to consult with a doctor before you make any changes to your diet or lifestyle.
If your anxiety symptoms persist or get worse, please consult with a mental health professional as soon as possible.

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