Anxiety Problems: Handling Anxiety as You Grow Older

caretaker shouting at a senior woman

Our mental health becomes a serious problem as we grow older. It becomes more problematic because we tend to be more vulnerable to all sorts of mental illnesses. For example, one common mental illness we develop as we grow older is anxiety.

General anxiety disorder (GAD) is a relatively common mental illness in the US. About six million Americans are diagnosed with it, and there are millions more left undiagnosed. Like some mental illnesses, GAD usually worsens over time when left untreated. Moreover, its symptoms only fully occur once a person reaches adulthood.

GAD isn’t a particularly dangerous mental illness. However, it does last for quite some time. So here is some general information you need to know about it.

General Anxiety Disorder

As stated earlier, GAD is a common mental illness in the US that affects numerous adults. Women are likely to be more affected than men. Seniors are also more vulnerable to the illness than any other age group.

GAD is a mental illness that has multiple symptoms. The first and most essential symptom determining if you have GAD is excessive worrying about the future. They are likely to think of all sorts of problems even if they haven’t manifested yet, such as financial and personal problems. Moreover, their anxiety is hard to control, and it continues throughout most times of the day.

This particular mental illness can also come with panic attacks. It’s quite common for people with GAD to experience panic attacks, especially when their worries become intense.

This mental illness isn’t dangerous by itself. However, GAD is dangerous because it’s comorbid with so many other mental illnesses, such as major depressive disorder (MDD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

GAD is a manageable mental illness and one that can get better by following these suggestions.

Breathing Exercises

During moments of excessive worry, you might notice your chest tightening and feeling heavier than usual. This is a flight or fight response triggered by your brain because of your worry. It’s a highly automated response but one you’re going to need to control, especially if you have other illnesses such as heart-related disease.

One way to control this is through breathing exercises. Breathing exercises are known to effectively handle GAD and panic attacks. It can also alleviate emotional pain when done correctly.

To do this effectively:

  1. Place a hand on your stomach.
  2. Inhale as much air as you can until your stomach expands.
  3. Breathe out the air until you feel your stomach inflate.
  4. Do this for five to ten minutes until you feel better.

Remove Stress
crossroads sign showing ways to relaxed and stressed

GAD is a mental illness that responds to stress. The more stress you have, the more your brain will anticipate problems that might not yet be there. Some people experience GAD because they expect a future problem to arrive when it’s still many months into the future.

Removing stress is one way you can handle this mental illness. You can do this through your means. You can take a vacation, change your job, or maybe move to another city—anything you need to feel better and away from immense amounts of stress.

Limit Alcohol, Caffeine, and Other Substances

Sometimes our anxiety is induced by the substance we intake. It’s time for you to reduce or completely remove these substances from your life.

Caffeine is the most common stimulant that many of us take almost every day. But since it’s a stimulant, it has a stimulative interaction with our brain. It heightens our senses and makes us feel more aware than ever. Unfortunately, it feels like the physical manifestation of excessive worrying for most people with GAD. This is why you have to remove such a substance from your diet or any other stimulants out there.

Seek Professional Help

If you’re experiencing excessive worrying for most parts of the day and you’re unable to control it for quite some time now, then don’t be afraid to seek professional help. Many mental health professionals can help you out with this illness. In addition, if you know a senior who has the early onset of this illness, you can send them to a hospice so they can treat it before it gets worse. The faster it gets treated, the better you’ll feel.

Seeking professional help, especially against something like a mental illness, isn’t a sign of weakness, nor is it a waste of money. On the contrary, it’s an essential service for all of us during moments we can’t seem to help ourselves.

GAD is a problematic mental illness that can be treated and managed in the long run. You can ensure that you and your loved ones are safe from such an illness through these simple ways.

Editor-in-chief of M’Lady Records. Loves to laugh, lives to love.

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