Most people have felt anxiety in their lives, but those who suffer from anxiety disorders also suffer from chronic stress and worry that it can impede their daily lives. A mental health survey from the Centers for Disease Control Prevention found that older adults aged 65 and above have significantly lower percentages of anxiety disorders at 6.2%, while those aged 45 to 65 are at 16.1%. In stark contrast, 49.1% of participants aged 18 to 24 reported suffering from anxiety.
However, it has to be noted that despite having lower occurrences, anxiety can put older people at a higher risk because of other compounding conditions. Our article ‘Hidden Signs of Elderly Anxiety and Ways to Calm Them’ points out that signs and symptoms of anxiety among older adults might be more complicated to detect. It is because symptoms like muscle and stomach pains, poor memory and focus, and the inability to sleep are behaviors commonly associated with people of age.
No matter what age a person is, anxiety disorders can be treated. Here’s what you need to know about how the treatment works.
Treatments for anxiety disorder
Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is the most widely used form of therapy for anxiety disorders. In CBT, patients are taught to manage negative thinking, set achievable goals, find a good approach to problems, and build confidence. This approach is very effective – it is proven to be equally, if not more helpful in the assessment of generalized anxiety disorder than pharmacotherapy! Other forms of therapy can include interpersonal therapy (IPT), psychoeducational group therapy, acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), and exposure therapy.
In-person therapy may be a better option for those who worry about configuring tech issues. It can also result in more comprehensive diagnoses, more ease of conversation, and a more accurate interpretation of non-verbal cues.
Except for diagnostic testing that might require the psychologist to evaluate the patient onsite, online therapy is as comprehensive and effective as in-person sessions. Telehealth platform Wheel shares that the online therapists that you can easily reach include psychologists, therapists, and counselors. Each of these therapists varies in training and licensure, but all are equally capable of working with patients to the same degree as in-person therapists.
Online therapy is a trend that is here to stay. More patients are choosing online therapy now given the choice to return to in-person sessions or remain online. A study reported that 50% of psychiatry patients wanted to continue with video teletherapy after the pandemic. The benefits of online therapy include reducing anxiety by staying at home, overcoming geographical limits when choosing therapists, and convenience for those who have limited mobility and transportation.
The first choice medications for treating anxiety disorders involve antidepressants: selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and serotonin-norepinephrine reuptake inhibitors (SNRIs) in the first place, and less frequent drugs such as tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs) and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). Other anti-anxiety drugs that are prescribed for short-term use include sedatives, benzodiazepines, and beta-blockers.
A study published on the NIH in response to psychological therapy found that therapists often default to prescribing psychotropic medication to patients, despite patients’ preference for psychological therapies. While anxiety medications are beneficial short-term and are not dangerous to critical body functions, they do tend to have side effects like drowsiness, nausea, weight gain, and withdrawal symptoms if used over a long time.
While therapy and medications are important treatments for older adults with anxiety disorders, it’s important to maintain an overall healthy lifestyle that can supplement your other efforts. Health blog Healthline highlights how self-treatment for anxiety usually involves managing triggers, practicing relaxation techniques, and taking up healthy habits like a balanced diet, regular exercise, and getting ample sleep. Adopting better habits can improve patients’ mental health, and lower their stress levels. It’s also important to maintain a support network that can talk you through your anxiety.
Anxiety can make you feel helpless, but these treatments prove that it’s not insurmountable. Although it may take some time, getting the proper assistance will help you on the road towards improved mental health.