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Anxiety in Older Adults

Posted April 15, 2015 in Advice Column, Ankeny

“Do not be anxious about anything”….is the beginning of Philippians 4:6, which I read recently is one of the most referenced Bible verses. Is it any wonder? The world we live in has more than enough issues to cause us anxiety. There are days when I turn on the news that cause my anxiety meter to go through the roof. That’s when I take a deep breath and cling to this promise that the Apostle Paul talked about so many years ago. In fact, there are several Bible verses that reference anxiety, and with good reason. It is common among all of us, and as we get older it can, unfortunately, become a crippling disorder.

Sadly, has been little research done on the course and treatment of anxiety in older adults. Until a few years ago, anxiety disorders were believed to decline with age, mainly because older adults were less likely to report psychiatric symptoms and focus on the physical changes that were occurring. Experts now recognize that anxiety is as common among the elderly as it is the young. Often, many older adults with an anxiety disorder had one in their youth.

Major Types of Elderly Anxiety Disorders in Older People:

  • Acute stress disorder: Anxiety and behavioral disturbances that develop within the first month after exposure to an extreme trauma.
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD): Symptoms of acute stress disorder that persist for more than one month.
  • Panic attacks: A sudden, unpredictable, intense, illogical fear and dread.
  • Social anxiety: A preoccupation with how a person is viewed by others.
  • Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD): A pattern of excessive worrying over simple, everyday occurrences and events.
  • Phobias: Irrational fear of situations such as heights, or fear of objects, such as snakes.
  • Obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD): A pattern of intrusive thoughts that assault the mind and produce extreme anxiety that can only be mitigated by an action, such as hand washing, constantly rearranging things, etc.

We will spend the next few months exploring these disorders in more detail.

Read more on the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website:


Information provided by Shelly Charter, Valley View Village, 2571 Guthrie Ave., Des Moines, 265-2571.

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