Mood Disorders and Anxiety are Less Common in Older People

Alcoholism and drug addiction are often intertwined with other mental health issues.

Mood disorders such as depression and bipolar disorder can affect people of any age. So can anxiety disorders such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), panic disorder and generalized anxiety disorder.

While mood and anxiety disorders are common in people of all ages, a new study shows that people older than 55 are less likely to have the disorders. The study, in the May issue of the Archives of General Psychiatry, found that only 5 percent of people in that age group had a mood disorder, while 12 percent reported anxiety disorders. Only 3 percent claimed they had co-occurring mood and anxiety disorders.

The study also determined the following about the older generation and mood and anxiety disorders:

•    People older than 85 were less likely to report having either type of disorder
•    Women generally had more than twice the rate of the disorders as men
•    People who were married or living with somebody had lower rates of mood disorders, anxiety disorders and co-occurring disorders than people who were divorced, widowed or never married

Rates of Mood, Anxiety Disorders in U.S.

In contrast to the low rates of mood and anxiety disorders in people older than 55, the overall rates of the disorders run significantly higher in the U.S. Here are some statistics from the National Institute of Mental Health:

•    About 10 percent of people older than 18 (or about 21 million) have a mood disorder such as depression or bipolar disorder
•    The median age of onset for mood disorders is 30 years
•    About 18 percent of adults (or about 40 million) have an anxiety disorder such as PTSD, panic disorder or social phobia disorder
•    About three-quarters of people with an anxiety disorder will experience their first episode by age 21.5
•    Anxiety disorders and mood disorders are common co-occurring disorders

Treatment for Mood, Anxiety Disorders

We see more than a fair share of men and women come in to treatment for drug addiction and also present a co-occurring disorder like depression, anxiety, or trauma.

No matter the age of a person affected by a mood or anxiety disorder, the disorders are treatable.

Treatment for mood and anxiety disorders typically involves medication to help control the symptoms of the disorders.

Therapy, either through an individual therapist or at a residential treatment center for mood or anxiety disorders, can help people suffering from the disorders to address the issues that led to the development of the disorders. Therapy can be helpful even to people who are experiencing the disorders later on in life.

In fact, the researchers of the Archives of General Psychiatry study stressed the importance of creating more intervention and prevention strategies for the country’s older population in order to better manage mood and anxiety disorders later in life.

“Given the rapid aging of the U.S. population, the potential public health burden of late-life mental health disorders will likely grow as well, suggesting the importance of continued epidemiological monitoring of the mental health status of the young-old, mid-old, old-old, and oldest-old cohorts,” the researchers wrote.