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Common Mental Health Disorders Seen in the Elderly

by Stacey Rossano on 5/7/14 11:45 AM

The older we get, it seems the more problems and issues that we face.  For the elderly, there is the ever-increasing chance of developing some type of mental health disorder.  And while some of these disorders canCommon Elderly Mental Health Disorders cause enormous problems for an older person and his or her family, for the most part, with proper support, treatment and medication, most elderly mental health conditions are controllable.  

Three of the more common disorders seen in older people include depression, dementia and psychosis.  As mentioned before, with proper treatment, elderly mental health conditions are usually controllable, but it should be noted that "women are especially susceptible to the side effects of various medications prescribed for [elderly] mental health problems."


As far as gender goes, depression tends to be seen more in elderly women.  Unfortunately, due to a large number of misdiagnoses, about one third of older people suffering from this condition do not receive proper treatment.  It is very important that a person understand the symptoms of depression because this will help in being able to obtain an accurate diagnosis.  Although it is a doctor's job to give a correct diagnosis, if an elderly person thinks he or she is suffering from depression, it's imperative to point this out so that a misdiagnosis can possibly be avoided.  Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Lack of concentration
  • Irregular sleeping patterns
  • Feelings of guilt
  • Pain
  • Lack of memory
  • Reduced appetite
  • Suicidal thoughts and/or attempts


The most prevalent type of dementia seen in elderly people tends to be Alzheimer's.  This condition is usually developed and suffered from for a period of five to 20 years.  Although the symptoms do vary from one elderly person to the next, the most common include:

  • Disturbances in behavior patterns
  • Delirium
  • Depression
  • Delusions


Of the three disorders discussed in this posting, psychosis tends to cause the most disturbances in a person's life.  For some elderly people, it comes in the form of being bipolar, which results in extended time periods of being depressed followed by being extremely happy, or vice versa.  When a person experiences his or her periods of being extremely happy, the following symptoms are usually noticed:

  • Lack of sleep
  • Excessive activity
  • Grandiosity

During the time periods in which the person experiences depression, the symptoms are much like the symptoms that any person endures while feeling depressed. 

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