by Jerome Reid | 8:34 am

Facts About Mental Health in Seniors

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About 58% of people over age 65 think that depression is a normal part of aging. Myths like this often prevent seniors from having mental illnesses identified and treated. (Mental Health America Survey)

According to the CDC (cdc.gov), an estimated 20% of people over the age of 55 have a mental health issue. Many mental illnesses can significantly affect physical and social well-being. Mental illnesses can, however, be hard to distinguish from regular signs of aging.

8 Common Symptoms of Mental Illness in the Aging

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Signs of mental illness in older adults may be expressed verbally during conversations. Often, though, the elderly exhibit symptoms behaviorally or physically instead. Look for these eight symptoms in the elderly to spot mental illness during the aging process.

1. UNUSUAL AVOIDANCES

For seniors, avoiding extreme heat or exhausting activities makes sense. However, avoiding eye contact, using the bathroom, touching particular objects, or participating in events is atypical. Watch for extreme or unusual avoidances.

2. DIFFICULTY MAKING BASIC DECISIONS

Decision-making is affected by memory, emotions, and judgment processes. When seniors struggle to make basic decisions or change their minds frequently, the issue may be caused by mental illness.

3. UNEXPLAINED STOMACH DISTRESS

A person’s gut reveals much about their physiological state. If a senior has unexplained digestive problems, they may be experiencing feelings or thoughts due to mental illness that is causing distress.

4. AGITATION OR MOODINESS

Irritability among seniors may occur as a result of physical conditions like chronic pain. However, agitation and moodiness that is disassociated from a reasonable cause can indicate a mental health problem.

5. CHANGE IN APPETITE OR SLEEPING PATTERNS

Often a change in eating or sleeping habits is the first sign people notice of depression. Pay attention to a senior’s routine and ask questions to understand why their habits may otherwise be changing.

6. DISINTEREST WITH FATIGUE

Feeling tired can occur as a result of aging. When tiredness becomes constant or chronic fatigue, it may be a sign of something more. Be on alert for disinterest in hobbies or a decrease in socialization due to fatigue.

7. HALLUCINATIONS OR DELUSIONS

If a senior recall information that doesn’t make sense or that never occurred, they may be experiencing hallucinations or delusions. These symptoms may present as paranoia or as simple confusion.

8. SUDDEN CHANGES IN BEHAVIOR AND ATTITUDE

It is unusual for optimistic seniors to suddenly feel sad all of the time with no cause. Likewise, a senior who participates in a hobby regularly and without explanation stops may be struggling with a mental illness.

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by Jerome Reid | 2:56 am

Early Signs and Symptoms of Elderly Mental Health Issues

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Mental health disorders affect about 20% of older adults in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Unfortunately, nearly one in three of those seniors doesn’t receive treatment because of shame or the fear that it will be dismissed as part of the aging process.

With knowledge and watchfulness, you can assess your senior loved one’s safety and well-being, and stay aware of their emotional and mental health to make sure they receive proper treatment.

Do mental health issues get worse with age?

Mental illness isn’t a natural part of aging. In fact, mental health disorders affect younger adults more often than the elderly, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. However, seniors are less likely to seek help.

The most common psychiatric disorder among the elderly is severe cognitive impairment or dementia. About five million adults age 65 and older — approximately 10% of seniors — have Alzheimer’s disease, according to the Alzheimer’s Association.

Depression and mood disorders affect up to 5% of seniors 65 and older, and up to 13.5% of older adults who receive home health care or are hospitalized, according to the CDC. Disturbingly, these issues often go undiagnosed and untreated.

Anxiety disorders often go along with depression. They include a range of issues, from hoarding syndrome and obsessive-compulsive disorder, to phobias and post-traumatic stress disorder. Nearly 8% of adults older than 65 have been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder at some point in their lives, says the CDC.

Risk factors for mental health disorders in seniors

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Older adults experience stress like all people, but even the normal emotional and physical stresses that go along with aging can be risk factors for mental illnesses. It’s important to pay careful attention to your aging loved one’s mental health, especially if they’re living alone or aren’t able to socialize as often as they once did.

Many potential triggers exist for mental illness in the elderly, according to the World Health Organization and the Geriatric Mental Health Foundation. These include:

  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Dementia-causing illness (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease)
  • Illness or loss of a loved one
  • Long-term illness (e.g., cancer or heart disease)
  • Chronic pain
  • Medication interactions
  • Physical disability or loss of mobility
  • Physical illnesses that can affect emotion, memory, and thought
  • Poor diet or malnutrition

Assessing mental health in older adults

One of the ongoing problems with diagnosing and treating mental illness in seniors is the fact that older adults are more likely to report physical symptoms than psychiatric complaints. In fact, many seniors may not even recognize their own mental health issues. This is why the American Psychiatric Association advises family members to seek professional advice if they believe their elderly loved one may be experiencing mental health problems.

Assess these five areas to determine whether a consultation with your loved one’s doctor is warranted:

  • Life tasks and self-care activities, such as dressing, preparing meals, or using the phone
  • Safety, including financial safety and driving
  • Physical health, including pain or uncomfortable symptoms, hospitalizations, or loss of appetite
  • Mood and brain health, such as feelings of hopelessness, loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy, or isolation
  • Medication safety, including skipping medications, and worrisome side effects or symptoms related to medications

10 symptoms of mental illness in the elderly

Senior Mental Health: 7 Tips to Improve Cognition & Emotion as We Age

It’s important to keep a close eye while visiting your aging loved one in order to spot signs that they need help. As your loved one ages, it’s natural for some changes to occur. Occasional forgetfulness is normal; however, persistent cognitive or memory loss can be potentially serious.

The same goes for extreme anxiety or long-term depression. Caregivers should keep an eye out for the following warning signs, which could indicate a mental health concern:

  1. Changes in appearance or dress, or problems maintaining the home or yard
  2. Confusion, disorientation, or other problems with concentration or decision-making
  3. Decrease or increase in appetite; changes in weight
  4. Depressed mood lasting longer than two weeks
  5. Feelings of worthlessness, inappropriate guilt, helplessness; thoughts of suicide
  6. Memory loss, especially recent or short-term memory problems
  7. Physical problems that can’t otherwise be explained: aches, constipation, etc.
  8. Social withdrawal, or loss of interest in things that used to be enjoyable
  9. Trouble handling finances or working with numbers
  10. Unexplained fatigue, energy loss, or sleep changes

Don’t hesitate to seek further assistance if your loved one is experiencing any of the symptoms above. Their family doctor is always a good source to start with.

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by Jerome Reid | 3:52 am

Improving Mental Health Conditions in Seniors


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You do everything you can think of to stay as sharp as a tack – from crossword puzzles to brain games to eating healthy foods. Still, the risk of mental health issues increases with age. Here are a few tips to lower your risk:

Tip #1: Surround yourself with positivity

Your environment and the people you surround yourself with have a major impact on your mindset. If you spend your time with people who are upbeat, positive and make you feel happy, you are more likely to feel and emit those qualities. Make sure to think positive thoughts, too. Keeping your mind filled with thoughts that bring you joy eliminates a place for depressive thoughts to fester.

Tip #2: Spend time with family and friends

Isolated individuals are more likely to become depressed. Socialization is healthy and keeps your brain active. Make plans with your friends and family. Invite them over for a game night or a home-cooked meal on a regular basis.

One of the benefits of living in a senior living community is the opportunity for social interaction. Join one of the many classes, activities, or events. Make a goal to meet someone new every so often. Spending time with others will help improve your mental health.

Tip #3: Set goals for yourself

Why set goals? Because having goals to work toward is good for the body and mind. It gives you motivation and purpose. It inspires you to put your best foot forward. It gives you something to look forward to.

Goals are especially useful when the benefits are two-fold. For instance, if you set a goal to walk 30 minutes per day with a friend, you’re not only benefiting your physical health with walking but your mental health through socialization.

Tip #4: Get moving

You may think regular exercise is only good for your physical body, but that’s not the case. It’s good for your mental health, as well. Exercise releases feel-good hormones called endorphins, which can uplift your mood and even improve long-term mental health problems like depression and anxiety. Make sure you’re incorporating some type of movement into your daily routine.

Tip #5: Reduce stress

Stress is more likely to affect your mental health, especially long-term. One of the healthiest things you can do for yourself is to get rid of – or at least reduce – what’s causing you stress and anxiety. Are you too busy? Not getting enough rest? Having to maintain your home and property but finding it exceptionally challenging as you get older?

Fortunately, living in a senior living community like Stonebridge at Montgomery reduces those daily stressors right away. No more shoveling snow, raking leaves, pulling weeds, or mowing the lawn. We handle all of the home maintenance tasks for you so you can spend more time on things that promote your mental health.

Learn More about Stonebridge at Montgomery

At Stonebridge at Montgomery, we consider all seven dimensions of wellness – physical, mental, emotional, social, environmental, vocational, and spiritual – crucial for healthy aging. Come see for yourself. Schedule a visit with us today.

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by Jerome Reid | 3:34 am

Senior Mental Health: 6 Ways to Improve Cognition & Emotion as We Age

Memory problems, cognitive decline and a growing loneliness epidemic, all make seniors especially vulnerable to mental health issues.

According to a Centers for Disease Control (CDC) study of mental health in older adults aged 55+, it is estimated that 20% of seniors experience some type of mental health concern. The most common conditions include anxiety, severe cognitive impairment and mood disorders, such as depression or bipolar depression.

Common mental health issues like anxiety and depression can have a negative impact on physical health and wellness for seniors. The CDC states that these conditions, especially mood disorders, can lead to impairments in physical, mental and social functioning and can affect and complicate the treatment of other chronic disorders.

Although the rate of older adults with mental health conditions tends to increase with age, depression and other illnesses are not a normal part of aging.

A photo of scared-looking senior man, looking at his reflection in a window.

The good news about Senior Mental Health

The good news about senior mental health is that it is a treatable condition. In addition to the possibility of clinical intervention through the use of prescribed medications or therapy, there are a number of activities and resources available to help keep older adults engaged and in good mental health and spirits.

Staying connected and maintaining strong, meaningful social connections with friends and family goes a long way towards preventing mental health issues in seniors. The CDC reports that social support is associated with reduced risk of mental illness, physical illness and even mortality.

A variety of avenues exist—many at no cost—for older adults to stay sharp and boost their mood.

6 Ways to Improve Mental Health in Seniors

As circumstances and family dynamics change, active retirement living and adult day health programs can offer seniors a supportive community and social environment to keep up with the activities they love and even introduce them to some new ones!

With that in mind, here is our seniors’ guide to improving and maintaining good senior mental health and well-being.

1. Play Mind Games

Just as the body needs physical activity and stimulation to stay healthy, the brain needs stimulation to stay sharp and avoid cognitive decline as we age. According to Harvard Health Publishing, brain games can help sharpen certain thinking skills such as processing speed, planning skills, reaction time, decision making and short-term memory.

Any activity that keeps the mind engaged and working towards solving problems contributes to brain health, but some of the most common and accessible activities for seniors include:

  • Reading and writing
    • Studies have proven that reading can enhance memory function, reduce stress and promote better sleep. Journaling can also help to manage and alleviate the effects of stress and anxiety.
  • Learning a new language
    • Language learning exercises regions of the brain often affected by aging and can build confidence and even increase socialization with others who may know or are learning the language.
  • Playing an instrument
    • Music stimulates the brain and improves memory in seniors with Alzheimer’s and dementia. According to The Washington Post, not only is playing, or learning to play, an instrument fun, but it can improve verbal fluency and processing speed within a matter of months.
  • Playing puzzles and games
    • In addition to being enjoyable, various puzzles have proven to delay memory decline and enhance senior mental health.

2. Get Physical

A photo of an older couple doing exercises.

From taking regular walks to yoga classes and ballroom dancing, exercise and physical activity benefit both the mind and the body by boosting confidence and reducing the risk of falls. Staying active and getting enough exercise are as important for seniors’ mental health and older adults’ well-being, as they are at any other stage of life.

In fact, low-impact exercises like stretching and strength training are actually necessary to help seniors stay healthy and reduce the risk of common age-related problems like bone fractures, joint pain, and other chronic illnesses.

In addition to the physical benefits, exercise can also help manage stress, anxiety and depression in seniors, which can be just as detrimental to seniors’ health as physical ailments and injuries. Exercising in order to maintain positive senior mental health is important.Diagnosis: Alzheimer’s Disease or Dementia
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3. Stay Connected with Friends

Time and distance can make it difficult for people to maintain close relationships with old friends, especially as they age.

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Cultivate Friendships

The Internet and the phone keep pals old and new in touch.

For older adults, keeping in touch with the important people in their lives can help to stave off loneliness and feelings of isolation that can lead to depression, as well as mental and physical decline.

Learning how to connect with new and old friends on social media, through FaceTime, Zoom or Skype are just some ways to stay in touch. There are always people willing to teach older adults how to use these different applications, as well as online tutorials. Seniors can also keep it simple by writing letters or setting up a regular schedule for a good old-fashioned phone call.

And like anyone, seniors can always make new friends!

4. Pick up a New Hobby

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Staying active after retirement is extremely important. Everyone has a personal wish list of dreams and activities, but sometimes those ideas are put off because life can get busy.

Retirement is the perfect time for seniors to dust off their “bucket list” and pursue lifelong goals, be it gardening, sewing, painting or French cooking!

Hobbies like shadow boxes help increase the neuroplasticity of the brain in which nerve cells connect or reconnect, changing the brain’s structure and function when stimulated through the repetition of seeing them.

As neuronal connections in these pathways are strengthened, and new connections are established, individuals feel comforted and gain an increased sense of belonging and ultimately, improving senior mental health.

5. Volunteering

Many seniors find fulfillment and a sense of purpose in volunteering for a worthy cause.

With no shortage of organizations and causes in need of support, there are many opportunities for older adults to get involved, and in turn, feel valued and needed.

Seniors volunteering for a cause or organization can be a rewarding experience at any age.

For someone looking to donate their time after retirement, volunteering can offer a number of additional benefits that enhance seniors’ physical, emotional and mental health.

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Trading time for good causes can enhance mental health.

Whether you enjoy reading to or sharing your skills and expertise with children and young students, or you feel moved to volunteer in a hospital, local food pantry or soup kitchen, volunteering in retirement can help seniors remain active, socially engaged, and become part of a vibrant and diverse community.

From making new friends to getting (or staying) physically active, volunteering can be a rewarding experience for everyone involved.

6. Caring for a Pet

A photo of a senior woman hugging her poodle dog.

Where appropriate, animals can help keep seniors active and busy and offer companionship in the process, with their unconditional love.

According to the CDC, many studies have shown that the bond between humans and their pets can increase fitness, lower stress and bring happiness.

Other health benefits of having a pet include:

  • Decreased blood pressure
  • Decreased feelings of loneliness
  • Increased opportunities for socialization

If you don’t want to or are unable to own a pet, volunteering at an animal shelter is also a good way to connect with animals and help organizations in need.…

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by Jerome Reid | 8:24 am

Behavioral Health at Any Age: No One Needs to Struggle Alone

Many areas of behavioral health can be something of a mystery to the general public. Myths and misconceptions about mental health and substance use are often significant obstacles to looking out for the well-being of ourselves and our loved ones. Talking about suicide does NOT plant the idea in someone’s head. Many mental health conditions are preventable. Depression is NOT a normal part of aging.

Let’s focus on that last one. It’s worth repeating; experiencing feelings of depression is not a given as we grow older. However, behavioral health problems like depression often go undiagnosed in older adults.

Older adults as well as their loved ones and even their healthcare providers sometimes dismiss symptoms of depression as “normal” signs of frailty – inevitably, our bodies grow physically weaker as we age. However, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)notes that many equivocate symptoms of depression with the physical weaknesses of aging, leading them to ignore these indicators of a potential mental health issue.

Others believe that feelings of depression are just the natural result of changes in life that typically happen to older adults. Major life events more common to older adults – such as retirement, the death of a loved one, or moving out of the family home – can be stressors that impact our behavioral health.

Facing the loss of someone or something important to us, we all feel sadness at times, but such episodes need not necessarily lead to depression. In fact, “many older adults will eventually adjust to the changes. But some people will have more trouble adjusting,” says the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Being unable to grieve and move on to prior feelings after a loss may be a sign of depression – in individuals of any age.

So What IS Different About Depression in Older Adults?

  • Just as symptoms of depression may differ between women and men, older adults may experience a different range of symptoms than younger individuals. Memory problems, confusion, vague complaints of pain, and/or delusions (“fixed false beliefs”) can indicate depression in older adults in addition to more typical symptoms such as loss of appetite, inability to sleep, or irritability (National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)).
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)reports that depression is more common in those who have another illness, and “we know that about 80% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, and 50% have two or more.” This higher likelihood of having a physical illness puts older adults at greater risk of depression.
  • For older adults, the interplay of mental and physical health issues works both ways – not only does the presence of some chronic illnesses increase the likelihood of experiencing a behavioral health condition, but some mental health problems like depression – if untreated – can increase risk for heart disease, suppress the immune system, and elevate the danger of infection (NAMI).
  • The World Health Organization points out that while older adults may experience the stressors common to everyone that can weigh against behavioral health, they may also experience stressors unique to them. Reduced mobility, chronic pain, bereavement, change in socioeconomic status due to retirement, and frailty or other health problems are all additional factors that can have a negative impact on the mental health or substance use of older adults.

Closing the “Treatment Gap”

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) describes a “treatment gap:” while at least 1 in 4 older adults experiences some mental health problem, two-thirds of those individuals do not receive the treatment they need. The first step in connecting those struggling with their behavioral health to treatment and recovery options is to identify the issue.

A great place to start if you’re worried about your mental health or substance use – or that of a loved one – is with a quick, anonymous online behavioral health screening. In about two minutes, you can find out if what you’re experiencing is consistent with symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other behavioral health conditions. If you’re concerned about a loved one – regardless of their age – encourage them to take a screening. No one needs to struggle alone.

If you or a loved one needs immediate mental health or addiction support, do not hesitate to call your insurance company or family doctor, or call 888-545-2600 if you have Medicaid coverage. You can find additional resources that support older adult mental health here.

If your loved one is ever in crisis, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the word, “ACT” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741

Author: MindWise Innovations, a Healthy Minds Philly screening partner.

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by Jerome Reid | 4:07 am

How To Select The Best Chiropractor

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Chiropractic is a profession with a wide variety of practice philosophies and techniques, which makes it a challenge to select a chiropractor who is most compatible for an individual. Because the chiropractic treatment includes hands-on procedures, consideration must be given for both the preference of treatment style as well as the rapport with the chiropractor.

This article outlines questions to ask when interviewing a doctor of chiropractic and provides guidelines for what to expect of chiropractic care. It also highlights some red flags that may indicate questionable treatment and/or practice management approaches.advertisement

Collecting Recommendations

One place to start is to ask a primary care physician, physical therapist, or spine specialist for recommendations of chiropractors who they view as competent and trustworthy. One way to phrase this question is: “If someone in your family needed a chiropractor, who would you recommend?” However, many medical professionals lack regular interaction with chiropractors and therefore may not be able to provide a recommendation.

It also helps to ask friends, co-workers, and neighbors for recommendations. While these recommendations can be valuable, keep in mind that one person’s definition of the best chiropractor may be quite different from another person’s definition. It is important to find a chiropractor who can meet an individual’s specific needs.

In general, a chiropractor who is recommended by multiple people is likely to be reliable.

Interviewing a Chiropractor

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Before starting treatment, it is usually best to conduct a telephone interview or request an in-office consultation to learn more about the chiropractor, the clinic, and techniques used. The treating chiropractor will typically request a personal consultation to discuss these details.

For most people, it is important to feel comfortable with the chiropractor and to have an overall positive experience at the clinic. Feeling comfortable is relative and depends on personal preferences, including details such as how long a patient may typically have to wait in the waiting room or the location of the chiropractor’s office.

Questions to consider about rapport and experience with a chiropractor and/or clinic staff during an initial interview may include one or more of the following:

  1. Is the chiropractor friendly and courteous?
  2. Does the patient feel comfortable talking with the chiropractor?
  3. Does the chiropractor fully answer all questions asked by the patient?
  4. Does the chiropractor listen to the patient’s complete explanation of symptoms and treatment concerns/preferences?
  5. How many years has the chiropractor been in practice?

See What to Expect at the First Chiropractic Consultation

Another consideration is whether the chiropractor has a specific undergraduate or post-graduate specialty. While not necessary, some chiropractors pursue post-graduate programs in various specialties, such as orthopedics, sports medicine, rehabilitation, neurology, or nutrition.

See Chiropractor Educational Requirementsadvertisement

Background Research

Questions to Ask Your Chiropractor

Patients may want to research if there are any disciplinary actions against the chiropractor. This information is available from each state’s chiropractic regulation and licensing board, which can usually be found on the state’s website.

Patients can also check to determine if their chiropractor’s college is accredited by the Council on Chiropractic Education.First Chiropractic Exam Video

Selecting any health care professional for treatment is something that should be done with care. Do not feel compelled to be treated by the first chiropractor interviewed. Many people interview several chiropractors before selecting one they feel is well suited to treat their condition.

The bottom line is that the chiropractor’s role is to recommend the course of care for the patient, and it is the patient’s decision whether or not to accept that doctor’s recommendations. Patients should never feel like a doctor is pressuring them into a treatment or payment decision. Contact us for more information.

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by Jerome Reid | 6:53 am

Anxiety disorders

About anxiety disorders

Anxiety disorders are a group of mental health problems. They include generalised anxiety disorders, social phobias, specific phobias (for example, agoraphobia and claustrophobia), and panic disorders. Depression is often related to anxiety disorders.

Anxiety disorders are common mental health problems that affect many people. Approximately 25% of the population have an anxiety disorder that warrants treatment at some time in their life and up to another 25% have less severe anxieties such as fears of spider and snakes.

Not all anxiety is a disorder

Everyone experiences anxiety and fear at times – these are normal and helpful human emotions that help us deal with danger. However, some people experience excessive and irrational anxiety and worries that become ongoing and distressing, and that interfere with their daily lives. This may indicate an anxiety disorder. Often there appears to be no obvious or logical reason for the way the person feels. This may make an anxiety disorder even more worrying to the sufferer.

Symptoms of anxiety disorders

The main features of an anxiety disorder are fears or thoughts that are chronic (constant) and distressing and that interfere with daily living. Other symptoms of an anxiety disorder may include:

  • Panic or anxiety attacks or a fear of these attacks
  • Physical anxiety reactions – for example trembling, sweating, faintness, rapid heartbeat, difficulties breathing or nausea
  • Avoidance behaviour – a person may go to extreme lengths to avoid a situation that they think could bring on anxiety or panic.

Panic attacks are a common symptom

A panic attack is a sudden feeling of intense terror that may occur in certain situations or for no apparent reason. A panic attack does not mean a person is necessarily suffering an anxiety disorder. However, a panic attack is a common feature of each type of anxiety disorder. Symptoms of a panic attack may include:

  • Shortness of breath
  • Dizziness
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Choking
  • Nausea.

The cause of panic attacks is unknown, but they may be related to a chemical response in the brain, caused by actual threatening or stressful events or by thinking about stressful events. The brain response leads to physiological changes in the body, such as shallow breathing and rapid heartbeat.

Panic attacks can be frightening. Some people say they feel like they are going to die or go crazy. People affected by panic attacks may avoid situations in which they think attacks might occur. In some cases, this may lead to the development of other anxiety disorders including agoraphobia.

Types of anxiety disorders

Anxiety becomes a disorder when it’s irrational, excessive and when it interferes with a person’s ability to function in daily life. Anxiety disorders include:

  • Generalised anxiety disorder
  • Social phobias – fear of social situations
  • Specific phobias – for example a fear of open spaces (agoraphobia) or enclosed spaces (claustrophobia)
  • Panic disorders – frequent and debilitating panic attacks.

Generalised anxiety disorder

Generalised anxiety is excessive anxiety and constant worry about many things. The focus of the anxiety might be family or friends, health, work, money or forgetting important appointments. A person may be diagnosed with a generalised anxiety disorder if:

  • The anxiety and worry have been present most days over a six-month period
  • The person finds it difficult to control their anxiety.

Social phobias

People with social phobia are afraid of being negatively judged or evaluated by others. This leads to fear of doing something that may humiliate them in public – for example public speaking, using public toilets, eating and drinking in public, writing in public, or any social encounters such as parties or workplaces.

Some social phobia sufferers may only fear one type of situation. Others may be concerned about several types of situations. This can lead them to avoid the feared situations, which can then lead to severe isolation and avoiding people and activities they usually enjoy.

Specific phobias

A person with a specific phobia has a persistent and irrational fear of a particular object or situation. They may fear animals, places or people. Fear of the object or situation is so severe that a person may experience physical symptoms and panic attacks. Fears may include dogs, blood, storms, spiders or other objects or situations but, in all cases, the anxiety is both excessive and interfering.

The adult phobia sufferer usually knows that their fear is excessive or unreasonable. However, their need to avoid the object, place or person can significantly restrict their life.

Panic disorders

Panic or anxiety attacks are common. Panic disorders are less common, affecting about 2% of the population. For a person to be diagnosed with a panic disorder, they would usually have had at least four panic attacks each month over an extended period of time. Often panic attacks may not be related to a situation but come on spontaneously.

Panic disorder may be diagnosed if panic attacks are frequent and if there’s a strong and persistent fear of another attack occurring.

Anxiety disorders can have serious effects

An anxiety disorder may lead to social isolation and clinical depression, and can impair a person’s ability to work, study and do routine activities. It may also hurt relationships with friends, family and colleagues. It’s common for depression and anxiety to happen at the same time. Depression can be a serious illness with a high risk of self-harm and suicide.

Recovery is possible with treatment

Recovery from an anxiety disorder is possible with the right treatment and support. Effective treatments for anxiety disorders may include:

  • Cognitive behavioural therapy – aims to change patterns of thinking, beliefs and behaviours that may trigger anxiety.
  • Exposure therapy – involves gradually exposing a person to situations that trigger anxiety using a fear hierarchy: this is called systematic desensitisation.
  • Anxiety management and relaxation techniques – for example deep muscle relaxation, meditation, breathing exercises and counselling.
  • Medication – this may include antidepressants and benzodiazepines.

Where to get help

You can contact us for more information.

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by Jerome Reid | 1:02 am

Top 10 Reasons Exercise Is Important for Senior Health

Senior Health: Tips for Successful Aging

Over the years, it is easy to forget about exercise when it’s not routine. Remaining sedentary over life can lead to metabolic disorders and other diseases associated with physical inactivity. A recent study suggested that about 67 percent of the older population is sedentary for at least 8.5 hours each day, suggesting a need to improve activity levels for senior health.

Exercise for elderly people should be something performed regularly, and making it fun and a routine can help in the long term. Moreover, there are numerous health benefits the older adult can receive from long-term exercise. Following are 10 reasons seniors should continue to exercise.

Monitoring Senior Health Issues in Springtime | Philips Lifeline ®
  1. Arthritis: Exercise is one of the most crucial options for arthritis management. Regular activity helps lubricate the joints and can help reduce overall pain and stiffness that is often present among individuals with arthritis. Moreover, obesity is a risk factor for the disease, and increasing physical activity levels can help better manage the debilitating symptoms of arthritis. (Here’s another NIFS blog post about exercise and arthritis.)
  2. Heart disease: Heart disease is one of the biggest causes of death in the United States. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention state that about one in every four deaths is attributed to heart disease. More people exercising later in life can help reduce the number of individuals with heart disease through the management of blood pressure and blood glucose, and decreasing LDL cholesterol.
  3. Metabolic Dysfunction (type II diabetes and obesity): Type II diabetes and obesity are two closely related diseases in which the body is in metabolic dysfunction. Exercise can help maintain proper body weight and help regulate blood glucose and insulin levels to make the body more efficient.
  4. Cancer: Exercise has been shown to help improve overall cancer risk among a variety of different forms of cancer. Studies have shown a 30 to 40 percent reduction in breast cancer risk among women who perform moderate to regular exercise.
  5. Hypertension: Exercise can help lower systolic blood pressure significantly through moderate-intensity physical activity. Try breaking up exercise into three bouts throughout the day lasting for at least 10 minutes each to receive blood pressure–lowering effects.
  6. Depression: Exercise can have a beneficial effect on personal mood. Studies suggest that group exercise classes among older adults can help reduce symptoms of depression by 30 percent or more in exercising older adults. The modest improvement in depressive symptoms can help maintain an overall greater vitality later in life and help prevent negative feelings or thoughts that are common with aging.
  7. Dementia: Dementia is a disabling condition affecting many older adults. With a wide range of mental disorders categorized as dementia, there is a great need to understand how to prevent the condition. Exercise is one prevention strategy that can help slow the mental decline. A recent study showed a 37 percent reduced risk and a 66 percent reduction in risk of dementia when older adults performed moderate-intensity exercise, suggesting every adult ought to exercise to help lower the risk of mental decline and to help prevent mental disability later in life.
  8. Quality of life: Maintaining functional independence is something many older adults want. A regular exercise inclusive of strength and balance training can help accomplish this. Aim to be physically active for 30 minutes every day and to strength train at least two non-consecutive days per week.
  9. Insomnia: Certain medications and life events can prevent the body from proper sleep. Higher levels of physical activity can help exhaust the body enough to place it in a position for restful and lasting sleep. Avoid strenuous exercise two hours before bed to obtain these benefits, and aim to meet the daily activity recommendations.
  10. All-cause mortality: Exercise is known to reduce death from all causes. In fact, a recent study showed a 30 to 80 percent reduction in all-cause mortality when individuals exercised at an intensity level greater than 4 METS, suggesting that exercise can help delay premature death from various causes.
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by Jerome Reid | 5:17 am

Seven Tips for Good Eye Health

Seven Tips for Good Eye Health

In the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s easy to take our eyesight for granted. But good vision isn’t a guarantee. Protect your vision by making smart decisions every day with these quick tips:

  1. Watching lots of movies? Sit at a distance equivalent to at least five times the width of your TV screen.
  2. Include eye healthy foods in your meal Foods containing vitamin C (papayas, red bell peppers, kiwi, strawberries, and oranges) or antioxidants such as lutein and beta-carotene (carrots, sweet potatoes, squash, spinach, kale, and broccoli) can help reduce the risk of developing age-related macular degeneration (AMD).
  3. Get regular…with your eye exams! There is no better way to protect your vision than an eye exam, as many eye diseases have no easily detectable symptoms. The Canadian Association of Optometrists recommends children have their first eye exam between ages six and nine months, and annually after that. Adults should have eye exams every two years, or at the direction of their optometrist.
  4. Butt out! Smoking contributes to a number of eye related health issues, learn more here.
  5. Take 20. Take a 20 second break from your computer screen every 20 minutes and focus your eyes on something at least 20 feet away.
  6. Protect your baby blues (or greens or browns). Wear proper protective eyewear when undertaking major indoor or outdoor work, and wear sunglasses outside even when the sun isn’t shining – UV rays are harmful to your eyes year round.
  7. Have the conversation. If you have eye irritation from allergies, inflammation, infection or injury, don’t assume it will go away on its own. Unusual visual symptoms can require treatment to resolve, or, in some cases, indicate a more serious vision problem. For eye care emergencies, be sure to ask your optometrist if emergency appointments are available – it’s often faster than going to the ER.
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by Jerome Reid | 3:22 am

Watch Your Words: Why Mental Health Awareness Should be Year Round

mental health awareness

Since 1949, May has been known as Mental Health Awareness Month.  Each year, when May is over, I wonder why we’re not encouraged to be aware of our mental health all year, every year, just as we are for our so-called physical health. Given all we know about the effects of anxiety and depression on our bodies and immune systems, this question is vital.  As Harvard Health pointed out in 2008, “Anxiety has now been implicated in several chronic physical illnesses, including heart disease, chronic respiratory disorders, and gastrointestinal conditions.” These conditions are no joke, so why don’t we take mental health more seriously?

The answer, in part, can be a lack of understanding and sometimes fear.  Both are reflected in the way we routinely belittle mental health, as part of our daily lexicon.  How many times have you heard “I literally had a panic attack”, “She’s so bipolar”, or “He’s a little OCD, ha ha”?  If you’ve never struggled with a mental health issue, you may not give these phrases a second thought.  Those who do struggle, can get the message to battle in silence, given a lack understanding and compassion for their situation.  This is particularly true of the most vulnerable in our midst, teens and tweens, who are often dealing with emerging mental health disorders. 

Two of my adolescent clients with OCD, recently shared frustration about their Health Classes, in separate schools. Both teachers initiated discussions about people who are “a little OCD.”  These conversations lacked any clinical information about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  For these clients, OCD meant twice the time to complete homework, up at night cleaning the house, and disturbing, unwanted thoughts of harm coming to their parents.  Their teachers missed a valuable opportunity for kids to learn about the true complexities of a mental health issue.  This type of casual discussion can reinforce the notion that these are not serious concerns, with possible physical ramifications, if left untreated.

Since 1949, May has been known as Mental Health Awareness Month.  Each year, when May is over, I wonder why we’re not encouraged to be aware of our mental health all year, every year, just as we are for our so-called physical health. Given all we know about the effects of anxiety and depression on our bodies and immune systems, this question is vital.  As Harvard Health pointed out in 2008, “Anxiety has now been implicated in several chronic physical illnesses, including heart disease, chronic respiratory disorders, and gastrointestinal conditions.” These conditions are no joke, so why don’t we take mental health more seriously?

The answer, in part, can be a lack of understanding and sometimes fear.  Both are reflected in the way we routinely belittle mental health, as part of our daily lexicon.  How many times have you heard “I literally had a panic attack”, “She’s so bipolar”, or “He’s a little OCD, ha ha”?  If you’ve never struggled with a mental health issue, you may not give these phrases a second thought.  Those who do struggle, can get the message to battle in silence, given a lack understanding and compassion for their situation.  This is particularly true of the most vulnerable in our midst, teens and tweens, who are often dealing with emerging mental health disorders. 

Two of my adolescent clients with OCD, recently shared frustration about their Health Classes, in separate schools. Both teachers initiated discussions about people who are “a little OCD.”  These conversations lacked any clinical information about Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.  For these clients, OCD meant twice the time to complete homework, up at night cleaning the house, and disturbing, unwanted thoughts of harm coming to their parents.  Their teachers missed a valuable opportunity for kids to learn about the true complexities of a mental health issue.  This type of casual discussion can reinforce the notion that these are not serious concerns, with possible physical ramifications, if left untreated.

Just as we seem immune to comments about OCD, we can be equally detached from commonplace phrases like “worry wart”, “wallflower” and “scaredy cat.”  All of which minimize the effects of living with untreated Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Social Anxiety, Panic Disorder and Specific Phobias. When we trivialize these issues, we throw them in the category of personality traits, to the realm of annoying quirks, without the possibility of change, rather than life altering issues, that are highly treatable with the proper help.As mental health professionals, individuals who fight every day to manage symptoms, and those who love and support them, we can work to slowly turn the tide.  By sharing with people, we trust.  By gently, and thoughtfully educating our doctors, teachers, spiritual leaders, family and friends, we can make those around us more sensitive, and aware, all year round, of the importance of how we all talk about mental health, and how critical it is to our health in general, mind, body and spirit.

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