Panic disorder often begins in people aged 20 to 35 and is thought to be rare in older age groups, although older people can and do experience panic attacks, usually due to life changes such as the death of a spouse, health issues, and depression. All people with panic disorder will get panic attacks on a recurring basis.
Diseases that cause cognitive declines such as Parkinson’s Disease, Alzheimer’s, and dementia can also cause a patient to have panic attacks , disorientation, agitation, and distress. The combination of medication-related side effects can cause disruptions in metabolism and heartbeat, bringing on a panic attack .
According to a review in the March 2007 Psychology and Aging , researchers who evaluated 17 studies of evidence-based treatment found that relaxation training, CBT, supportive therapy and cognitive therapy were all effective in treating anxiety in elderly patients.
The profound forgetfulness and confusion of dementia can trigger panic attacks . Reminders and reassuring words can help in these situations.
Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common anxiety disorder among older adults, though anxiety disorders in this population are frequently associated with traumatic events such as a fall or acute illness .
Try this: breathe in as slowly, deeply and gently as you can, through your nose. breathe out slowly, deeply and gently through your mouth. some people find it helpful to count steadily from one to five on each in-breath and each out-breath. close your eyes and focus on your breathing.
Helping Someone During a Panic Attack Stay with the person and keep calm. Offer medicine if the person usually takes it during an attack . Don’t make assumptions about what the person needs. Ask. Speak to the person in short, simple sentences. Be predictable. Help slow the person’s breathing by breathing with him or her or by counting slowly to 10.
Tricyclic antidepressants , especially amitriptyline and dothiepin ,16 are known to pose a high risk of death in overdosage. These drugs should therefore be avoided in older people whose medication is not supervised and who are at risk of taking an overdose.
Choice of antidepressant The selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) and the newer antidepressants buproprion , mirtazapine, moclobemide, and venlafaxine (a selective norepinephrine reuptake inhibitor or SNRI) are all relatively safe in the elderly.
When practiced regularly relaxation techniques such as mindfulness meditation, progressive muscle relaxation, and deep breathing can reduce anxiety symptoms and increase feelings of relaxation and emotional well-being. Exercise regularly. Exercise is a natural stress buster and anxiety reliever.
Depression, anxiety and agitation, and sleep-related problems also plague people with Alzheimer’s disease. Left untreated —as they too often are—these symptoms can have a significant effect on quality of life and even on the course of the disease itself.
Depression , for instance, is typical of early dementia . Along with mood changes, you might also see a shift in personality. One typical type of personality change seen with dementia is a shift from being shy to outgoing. This is because the condition often affects judgment.
Some possible causes include: Autoimmune diseases (conditions that over-activate the immune system) Unusual presentations of more common neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease) Prion diseases (rare forms of neurodegenerative disease) Infections. Impaired blood flow to or in the brain.
Anxiety disorders are associated with lower compliance with medical treatment, which could worsen chronic medical conditions and increase the risk for nursing home admission. Anxious older adults report decreased life satisfaction, memory impairment, poorer self perception of health, and increased loneliness.