How does age affect mental health? What are the ways in which you can improve mental health at any age? This guide will help you with answers to these questions.
Mental health is an integral aspect of our life since we can function well and make decisions properly if our mind is unhealthy. According to recent studies, about one in every four American adults face a diagnosable mental health problem each year.
Nearly 10.7% of the world suffers from mental illness. In this article, you will come upon elements related to mental health, how it evolves with age and how you can improve it.
We will specifically focus on the mental health of older adults, who are at a higher risk of mental health disorders due to various reasons.
How Does Mental Health Evolve With Age?
The mental health of a child
A child’s mental health is different in comparison to adults and old-aged groups. It comprises various elements since it marks the development of a child. Numerous characteristics and behavior were shaped during this period.
They can grasp things quickly and can memorize things effectively. They learn social skills as well as understand how to cope up with problems when they are alone.
The mental health of a teenager
This age holds to be a significant time of a person’s life a person enters multiple changes, be it personality or communication skill. Along with having strong willpower to conquer the world and be energetic, they suffer from numerous mental illnesses. Let’s have a glance at a list of mental illnesses that a teenager suffers from.
- Worrying too much about a particular subject.
- Peer pressure
- The things which aren’t able to perform adequately become a matter of concern
- Social phobias
The mental health of a young person
When a child grows and matures to become a young person, he/she undergoes various changes. They are loaded with responsibilities and learn multiple new habits be it good or bad.
During this period, they understand how to respond to things and activities that occur in their surroundings. Mental health issues may occur in a young child if the parents fight often. Keeping the child engaged in creative hobbies and ideas can enhance their personality.
The mental health of older people
Mental health doesn’t become as much a matter of concern for other age groups as compared to older people. Nearly 20% of older adults suffer from some form of mental disorder.
They cringe more about the things they couldn’t do in their life. They are usually recommended to spend time along with their loved ones and engage themselves in social activities.
Mental Health Disorders In Children
- Hyperactivity disorder: Hyperactivity disorder is also called an attention-deficit disorder. Children who suffer from hyperactivity disorder show symptoms like poor concentration, hyperactivity, and different behavior.
- Autism spectrum disorder: In autism spectrum disorder, a child suffers from problems in talking and behaving with others at an early age. Autism spectrum disorder occurs before the age of 3.
- Emotional disorders amongst adolescents: Adolescents undergo hormonal fluctuations and changes in the body, due to which their behavior changes quite rapidly. They become quiet, and they are known to react quickly to a particular situation. Children may need support from their parents or friends of their age group. If the problem increases over the period, then it is indispensable to check out with the psychiatrist.
Symptoms Of Mental Disorders In Children
- Not taking an interest in activities
- Being irritated
- Extreme grief
- Inability to concentrate
- Lower academic performance
- Behavioral changes
- Mood swings
Treatment of Mental Health Conditions In Children
For treating children with mental conditions, doctors may recommend an antidepressant, mood stabilizer, antipsychotic as their treatment. The doctor will suggest accurate dosage, precautions, and warnings of the treatment.
In psychotherapy, the therapist will talk to children and understand their thinking patterns and feelings through playing games and spending time with them.
They understand what the child is going through and then take the learning to the parents and other elders in the home to alleviate the sources of stress and fear in the child.
Mental Health Disorders In Adults (Focusing More On Older Adults)
People who have anxiety disorders tend to become anxious due to physical or situational triggers. Small stressful events add up and lead to excessive stress and anxiety.
For instance: financial problems that prevail in the house, the excessive burden of studies on a student, or the death of a loved one may lead to anxiety disorder.
Common anxiety disorders among the elderly include GAD, phobias (such as fear of falls), and PTSD. Anxiety disorders remain less diagnosed but more prevalent than depressive disorders in the elderly.
Nearly 16 mn Americans face Depression. There are multiple reasons for a person to be depressed. When a person enters into a troublesome circumstance, they are more likely to suffer a feeling of guilt, sorrow, and pain.
The causes of depression vary from susceptibility to the brain, occurrence of sad events in life, medical issues, or when a person cannot achieve what they wanted to.
While depression is not as common in the elderly as in other populations, its prevalence increases in those who require hospitalization or home healthcare
Dementia affects mental ability, decision making, concentration, and ability to remember. There is no cure for dementia, but people can live with it.
Alzheimer’s is a form of dementia. People with dementia are known to suffer from symptoms like confusion, communication problems, poor memory, changed behavior, and inability to accomplish other regular activities.
Obsessive-compulsive disorder is the need to do a particular task in a certain way or in a repetitive manner over and over again. For instance: To check social media over and over again to get affected if your pillow is not aligned with your bedcover in a certain way.
While OCD is more common in younger people, studies suggest that the third peak of OCD occurs typically after the age of 65 in patients.
Post-traumatic stress disorder
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a disorder that occurs in a person who suffers from excessive stress due to a traumatic event. For instance: death of a loved one, accident, family problems. A person suffers from tremendous emotional stress, changed behavior, anxiety, and nausea.
The incidence of PTSD among older adults is only 4.5%. However, studies have indicated that the disease remains underreported.
An eating disorder is a mental condition in which a person becomes obsessed with food. This becomes an obsession when it comes to their body weight or body shape. The reasons behind the eating disorders may vary from person to person. Nonetheless, the widespread causes for this disorder may exist due to
- Fluctuations in the levels of serotonin and dopamine.
- Variance in the brain structure of a person
- Twin adoption
While it is less common for eating disorders to come out later in life, it is still a disease to look out for since the loss of appetite and malnutrition are common in older adults.
Paranoia is a psychological condition in which a person acts suspiciously. Such people get multiple paranoid thoughts. For instance, they feel that somebody is intentionally trying to make them feel bad or the people around them are making fun of them and laughing at them.
This is a more complex disorder that needs psychiatric help to prevent. Nearly 23% of older adults face paranoia-related disorders, as per studies.
Schizophrenia is a mental disorder characterized by delusions, disorderly thinking, and hallucinations. Most patients with schizophrenia experience the symptoms within their early 20’s. Patients typically have to be treated their entire life for this disorder.
If treatments begin early, then some symptoms can be treated. The symptoms of schizophrenia include lack of emotions, hallucinations, delusions, impaired thinking.
Teenagers indicate symptoms like not being engaged with friends, poor academic performance, less motivation, lack of interest, and insomnia. There is no proper way to overcome schizophrenia, but the treatment prevents suffering through worse symptoms.
Factors Responsible For Poor Mental Health In Older Adults
As the person ages, the immune response to numerous diseases decreases gradually. It also leads to slower production of new cells in the body, which slows down a person’s mental capacity and physical capability. As the person matures, it results in a changed perspective and mindset.
This is the period when the physical ability of a person reduces. When people in the older age group do not engage in keeping themselves engaged in activities, they tend to overthink. This impacts their mental health.
Consumption of alcohol
Excessive consumption of alcohol is known to damage the liver, brain, and heart. But did you know that it may also lead to dizziness, depression, anxiety, and mental disease?
As we mature, our body becomes weaker, and our tolerance for alcohol reduces. Alcoholism is a major problem in older age groups, and when combined with mental health issues, it can be a deadly combination.
Retirement is one of the most-awaited and joyous occasions of your life, but it can also become a big contributor to mental disorders. There are several things that change with retirement, which one may not be prepared for:
- Your relationship with your significant other will change dramatically because the two of you will spend a lot more time together now. This may seem like a boon, but togetherness also makes one’s small irritating habits become larger than life.
- Lack of financial planning may affect you. Loss of a regular salary is a big dent in your finances, and if you haven’t put aside enough in pension funds and other secure assets, you are likely to have to lower your quality of life which can create stress
- Lack of a workplace social element can be difficult. When you are in your job, you are used to meeting a set of people every day, sharing your life with them, having conversations over coffee, and maybe making a crack or two about your boss with your colleagues. That social element of the workplace is an important aspect of your personality, and when you lose out on it, it may create a sense of loneliness.
Loneliness can occur to anyone, but elderly people suffer more often from loneliness. Lack of social interactions with family with who you have lived your entire life and dealing with the death of close friends can create a sense of being completely alone in the world. Not being engaged in some activity or living alone may also lead to loneliness.
Failing physical health
At an older age, your health will start to fail you. Diabetes, hypertension, heart, and lung problems are very common in the elderly. Bone and muscle pain are also quite common.
Inability to do your daily tasks without taking help from others is a big reason for depression among older adults. While there are many walking aids and support groups available, the loss of health is something that can alter the way you look at yourself.
With old age, medications become a big part of your life. While they help you control your physical diseases, sometimes taking too many medications can create side effects such as dizziness, weakness, nausea, and even depression. Mood changes are another side effect to watch out for.
You should review your medications carefully with your doctor if you feel side effects such as anxiety and sudden mood swings.
Tips For Improving Mental Health In Older People.
Exercises are not only essential for the youngsters, even old age group people can check multiple benefits. All that you need to do is keep moving to improve your state of mind and retain sound mental health for a longer time. Keep moving so that your brain and body function well and adopt a healthy lifestyle and living patterns.
Try to be socially active.
You can share your happiness and discuss sorrows by being socially active and engaging with people. This enables you to be in touch with your loved ones even if they are far away. Through this means, you can improve your mental condition and cope with the sadness and guilt in your life.
Try to adopt a hobby.
By adopting hobbies and being creative, you can overcome depression and anxiety because you are engaged in some work. The dopamine secretion will enhance your mood and the sense of well-being, so always try to work on a hobby to magnify your mental health.
Try to seek support.
People of the old age group hesitate to ask for assistance and help from the people around them. You need to break this barrier to overcome and seek mental support from your family members and loved ones.
You may feel nice and get a sense of support by sharing your problems with your near and dear ones. Discussing the solution also becomes easy by sharing the issues with others.
Pets such as cats and dogs are loving and caring creatures who can keep you company, give you a sense of purpose and even help keep you physically active.
Adopting a pet (if you are upto the challenge of taking care of them) is one of the best ways to fight loneliness in older adults.
Myths About Mental Health
There are many myths related to mental health. We need to understand and distinguish between what is correct and scientifically proven vs. what is merely hearsay.
Myth 1: People with mental conditions are known to be difficult for others.
Fact: People who have mental conditions are not violent or harsh on others. They are no more violent than the rest of the population. Studies show that when treated properly, mentally ill patients are no more aggressive than others.
Myth 2: You can’t assist a person with a mental condition.
Fact: A mental condition should not be a stumbling block for a caregiver. Love and care are very important, and social relationships can do wonders in the life of a person with mental illness. If they live more around their loved ones and family members, it will promote their well-being and improve their mental health.
Myth: People affected by any mental illness cannot concentrate on their work.
Fact: A person affected by a mental condition can also work effectively and contribute to their employer. Indeed, with proper care, medication, and support, a person with a mental condition can work effectively. After all, their willingness and willpower to work are not impacted by their mental illness.
We need to understand that a person who is facing mental illness doesn’t feel depressed, anxious, or stressed all the time! In fact, in most cases, you may not even be able to recognize that a person is undergoing a mental health issue at first glance.
What’s important therefore is to recognize that such a person needs a bit of care and support in the short intervals when they do actually experience the ill effects of their issue.
Myth: Medicines are better than attending therapy sessions and self-love.
Fact: By attending therapy sessions and embracing your flaws, you will eventually start focusing on yourself and gradually cope with the mental illness. Medications and therapy sessions both go hand in hand to overcome a medical condition.
Nonetheless, taking pills is not the best way to overcome medical conditions. Try to imbibe some self-love and work to evolve yourself into the best version of yourself, instead of popping pills and ignoring the root causes of your illness.
Mental health is an important but often neglected topic. Coping with mental health issues can be very challenging, especially if you have to go through them by yourself.
With age, mental health starts to deteriorate along with physical health. While the latter receives much more attention, mental health discussion in older adults tends to get limited to Alzheimer’s and dementia. However, statistics are clear that disorders such as loneliness, depression, anxiety, and even PTSD are quite common in older adults.
We have tried to keep this guide concise, giving you an overview of mental health disorders, triggers that lead to poor mental health, and what you can do about it.
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