Treatment Options for Elderly Individuals Struggling with Anxiety

Learn about anxiety symptoms and anxiety treatment for elderly individuals. Get help at Alternative Options.

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Anxiety Disorders: Scope and Treatment

As we age, it’s natural for our bodies and minds to change. For some older adults, anxiety can become a debilitating condition that affects their quality of life. While anxiety is a common mental health condition that affects all ages, it can present different challenges for older populations. Fortunately, there are a variety of options for anxiety treatment for elderly individuals.1

This article will explore some of the most common types of anxiety treatment for elderly individuals, including medication, therapy, and alternative approaches. We will also look at symptoms and causes of anxiety disorders in older adults.

Anxiety Treatment for Elderly

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What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a normal human emotion that we all experience at different times in our lives. It is a feeling of fear or apprehension about what may happen in the future. For example, most people feel anxious before taking an important exam, going to a job interview, or speaking in public.2

Anxiety in the General Population

According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America, Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) affects 6.8 million adults or 3.1% of the U.S. population. Women are twice as likely to be affected as men.3 The World Health Organization estimates that 264 million adults around the globe have anxiety. The CDC also states that 27.3% of Americans over 18 years have anxiety.

Anxiety in Older Adults

According to a study published in the Journal of Anxiety Disorders, the prevalence of anxiety disorders in older adults ranges from 3% to 14%. The most common type of anxiety disorder diagnosed in older adults is Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD).

Symptoms of Mild to Severe Anxiety

The symptoms of anxiety can present differently depending on the person and on the severity of the condition.

Mild Anxiety

Common symptoms of mild anxiety are:

  • Restlessness, feeling keyed up, or feeling on edge
  • Excessive worry or concern about future events
  • Irritability
  • Muscle tension
  • Difficulty concentrating or focusing
  • Fatigue or tiredness

Moderate Anxiety

People experiencing moderate anxiety might experience any of these symptoms:

  • Increased heart rate or palpitations
  • Sweating
  • Trembling or shaking
  • Nausea or stomach upset
  • Hyperventilation or shortness of breath
  • Feeling lightheaded or dizzy

Severe Anxiety

Symptoms of severe anxiety include:

  • Intense and persistent fear or dread
  • Panic attacks, which can include symptoms such as chest pain, sweating, shaking, and a feeling of impending doom
  • Avoidance of certain situations or places
  • Intrusive and uncontrollable thoughts or images
  • Trouble sleeping or insomnia
  • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors (in some cases)

Everyone experiences anxiety differently. Some people with anxiety disorders may have different symptoms than those listed above.

Physical Symptoms of Anxiety

Anxiety becomes a problem when it is excessive and interferes with daily life. An anxiety disorder can be characterized by excessive worry, fear, or dread. It can also manifest as physical symptoms such as:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Sweating
  • Trembling
  • Difficulty breathing

An anxiety disorder can also lead to avoidance behaviors. This is when individuals try to avoid situations or activities that trigger their anxiety.

How Anxiety Impacts Older Adults

Anxiety is a common mental health concern for older adults, just as it is for any age group. Unhealthy anxiety levels can have a significant impact on any individual’s overall well-being. Here are some ways that anxiety can impact older adults:4

  • Physical health problems: Anxiety in older adults can lead to chest pain, shortness of breath, and increased heart rate. These can exacerbate existing health problems in the elderly population.
  • Cognitive decline: Anxiety can impact cognitive function, including memory and concentration. This often leads to a decline in overall cognitive abilities in elderly individuals.
  • Social isolation: Without anxiety treatment for elderly individuals, anxiety can cause older adults to avoid social situations or withdraw from social activities. This can lead to feelings of loneliness and isolation.
  • Increased risk of falls: Anxiety can cause muscle tension and instability. This can increase the risk of falls in older adults.
  • Reduced quality of life: Anxiety can impact older adults’ ability to enjoy daily activities and maintain social relationships. This can eventually lead to a reduced quality of life if anxiety treatment for elderly individuals is not pursued.

Causes of Anxiety in Older Adults

Several factors can contribute to increased anxiety in older adults, including:

  • Health problems: Older adults may experience various health problems that can cause anxiety. Some common health problems are chronic pain, heart disease, and diabetes.
  • Changes in life circumstances: Major changes such as retirement and losing a spouse or loved one can be stressful. People often experience anxiety during major life events.
  • Cognitive decline: Older adults may experience cognitive decline. This can cause anxiety related to memory loss, confusion, and fear of losing independence.
  • Medication side effects: Older adults often take multiple medications. Medications can have side effects such as increased anxiety.
  • Social isolation: Older adults may experience social isolation. This can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, and anxiety.
  • Financial concerns: Older adults experiencing financial difficulties may have anxiety related to financial security and stability.

Anxiety Doesn’t Discriminate – It Can Impact People of All Ages

It’s important to note that anxiety can occur at any age, and there is not one specific cause of anxiety in the elderly population. If you or a loved one are an older adult experiencing higher anxiety levels, it is important to get help. Ask for anxiety treatment for elderly individuals from a healthcare professional to determine the underlying cause of anxiety and develop a treatment plan.

Anxiety Treatment for Elderly Individuals

Anxiety treatment for elderly individuals can involve a variety of approaches. It depends on the severity of the anxiety, the individual’s overall health, and if there are any underlying medical conditions.

Psychotherapy, medication, lifestyle changes, and other activities are all standard types of anxiety treatment for elderly individuals.5


Psychotherapy or talk therapy is an effective anxiety treatment for elderly individuals. It involves working with a mental health professional to identify and address the underlying causes of anxiety.

This can involve cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), which focuses on changing negative thought patterns and behaviors. It can also involve other forms of therapy, such as:

  • Relaxation techniques
  • Mindfulness-based therapy
  • Interpersonal therapy


Another anxiety treatment for elderly people is medication. A doctor may prescribe anti-anxiety medication to alleviate symptoms. Common medications include benzodiazepines and antidepressants. However, clinicians should closely monitor medication taken by older adults. They may be at a higher risk for side effects or unwanted interactions with other medicines.

Lifestyle Changes

An underrated anxiety treatment for elderly individuals is lifestyle change. Simple lifestyle changes such as exercising, eating a healthy diet, and getting enough sleep can help reduce symptoms of anxiety in older adults.

Support Groups

Joining a support group can allow older adults to connect with others experiencing similar challenges. Support groups can provide emotional support and meaningful connections. This option is a dependable anxiety treatment for elderly individuals.

Complementary Therapies

Complementary therapies can also be an effective anxiety treatment for elderly individuals. Acupuncture, massage therapy, and yoga can help older adults reduce anxiety symptoms. These are optimized when used in conjunction with other treatments.

Mindfulness-Based Interventions

Mindfulness-based interventions is another kind of anxiety treatment for elderly individuals that can help reduce symptoms. They include mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) and mindfulness-based cognitive therapy (MBCT). These approaches involve practicing mindfulness techniques to help manage anxious thoughts and feelings.

Anxiety treatment for elderly

How to Find Anxiety Treatment for Elderly Individuals

Anxiety can be difficult to live with; fortunately, there are many anxiety treatment options available. It is essential to carefully research and choose a reputable counseling center for anxiety treatment for elderly individuals. Treatment should be tailored to each person’s specific needs and unique medical history.

Always work with a healthcare professional to determine the most appropriate treatment options. Your primary care provider can be a great place to start looking for anxiety treatment for elderly individuals. You can also research counseling centers on your own.

Find the Help You Need at Alternative Options

You can find help at Alternative Options. We use individually-tailored and proven methods for treatment. Our team of trained therapists, certified counselors, and psychiatrists provides individualized support in a friendly environment.

Alternative Options Treatment Opportunities

We offer a variety of options for anxiety treatment for elderly individuals, including:

  • Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)
  • Art therapy
  • Music therapy
  • Group therapy
  • Biofeedback

If you or a loved one are suffering from anxiety, reach out today. Your journey to a better life can begin now.