This is the web page for everyone over 65 wanting to learn more about mental health and aging well. Throughout this website I use the word "older" to describe the adults I treat because they are usually over age 65.
If you are suffering from depression, anxiety or a condition within their scope, psychotherapy may help bring the joy back into your life.
We accept that in the course of a lifetime, we will all have illnesses or injuries. Most of us expect to need the attention of a doctor for physical problems at times.
We should accept that we are equally prone to mental illness as physical illness. Mental illness just means that you are not at the top of your game emotionally. Approximately half of all Americans will have a clinically significant mental illness in their lifetime.
Every illness does not necessarily require a doctor's help but if in doubt, its better to check it out.
In principle, you can enjoy every day of your life. In practice, well, it takes practice. Coping well with our emotions is largely a skill that is learned. Some fortunate people are taught well as they grew up. Other fortunate people with were born with a relaxed temperament. But society, in many subtle and not-so-subtle ways teaches us not to be content and not to feel good about ourselves. We undergo a barrage of negativity from television news. The church tells us we are sinners. It's understandable how people develop depression and anxiety disorders.
Having depression and anxiety for a long period of time is not a normal part of growing older. Most people over 65 feel satisfied with their lives, despite having more illnesses or physical problems. But depression may be increasingly difficult to recognize as people get older because they may show different, less obvious symptoms.
Typically people who are depressed feel tired, have trouble sleeping, or seem grumpy and irritable. Confusion or attention problems caused by depression is easily mistaken for Alzheimer’s disease or other brain disorders. People over 65 also may have more medical conditions such as heart disease, stroke, or cancer, which may cause depressive symptoms. Or they may be taking medications with side effects that contribute to depression. Over half of all prescription medicines cause drowsiness.
Some older adults may experience vascular depression, also called arteriosclerotic depression or subcortical ischemic depression. This is a form of depression that may result when blood vessels become less flexible and harden over time, becoming constricted. The hardening of vessels prevents normal blood flow to the body’s organs, including the brain. Those with vascular depression may have or be at risk for heart disease or stroke.
Sometimes it can be difficult to distinguish grief from major depression. Grief after loss of a loved one is a normal reaction and generally does not require professional mental health treatment. However, grief that is complicated and lasts for a very long time following a loss may require treatment.
Older adults who had depression when they were younger are more at risk for developing depression in late life than those who did not have the illness earlier in life.
Anxiety symptoms tend to snowball if left untreated. On the other hand, with treatment anxiety is often curable.
Some people think that mental health problems are a sign of weakness and treatment represents a personal failure. This can lead to denying having mental health problems and not seeking treatment. If there is concern that an older adult is exhibiting symptoms of depression, the first step is to accept that help is needed. It's a mistake to expect a depressed person to "snap out of it." It's also a mistake to think that anyone is too old to be helped.
Depression, even the most severe cases, can be treated. The earlier treatment begins, the more effective it is. Most people see an improvement in their symptoms shortly after beginning treatment.
They don't know the symptoms.
They think they have a heart condition.
Dr. Novak received her Ph.D. from the University of Maryland School of Social Work Doctoral Program in 2005. Her dissertation concerned older adults and their social support in relation to symptoms of maladaptive coping.