Back to homepage

Anxiety | Managing the Silent Giant in Your Senior Years

Anxiety | Managing the Silent Giant in Your Senior Years


Anxiety | Managing the Silent Giant in Your Senior Years


Anxiety is an emotional condition that can affect most people. This seemingly unrelenting burden is known as the “silent geriatric giant” that can affect many adults in their later years. In fact, it affects around 10 to 20 percent of seniors, that’s twice as high as dementia and four to eight times greater than depression. It is a “silent” giant, because it can take hold without being properly identified.

Recognition of symptoms and diagnosis are often missed entirely, “silent,” which can lead to the worsening of the symptoms or delaying the treatment and other interventions. It’s a “giant,” because of the vast number of people it affects every day. However, with the right help and treatment from a qualified therapist, your symptoms can be alleviated and you can have a  much better quality of life.


The “Silent” Clinical Presentations of Geriatric Anxiety

It is a fallacy that anxiety does not affect seniors. This is one of the reasons why it is often under-diagnosed and untreated in your age group. In addition, the recognition of the symptoms can be more difficult because anxiety tends to have a different clinical presentation and can be associated with other medical issues or as a side effect of medications.

For example, its symptoms can overlap with the side effects of a drug you are taking or with the symptoms of certain age-related medical conditions. It is also common for you and for many people to think that declining physical and cognitive functioning is natural. Thus, you may express the symptoms as pain, associating it with a medical condition than an emotional distress and seeking help from a medical doctor than a mental health professional.

Late-life anxiety may be a symptom of an underlying emotional condition, secondary to another medical ailment, medications, or even substance abuse. In many cases, it could be mistaken for clinical depression or other emotional conditions, which may not have been recognition of symptoms, diagnosis and treatment.


Anxiety Can Be Incapacitating

Since anxiety can accelerate the decline of your physical and cognitive functioning, it can result in you being more dependent on your loved ones.  It can restrict your abilities to perform daily tasks that you could once do with ease. It can decrease your compliance to adhere to other treatments, which may cause further health issues.

Late-onset anxiety may also affect your memory, self-esteem, increase tendency toward social withdrawal, and result in a decreased overall life quality.  You could also become more at risk to depression. According to Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam, “48% of seniors with primary major depressive disorder (MDD) also had a comorbid anxiety disorder, whereas approximately one-fourth of those with anxiety disorders also had MDD (major depressive disorder).”  

When these two emotional conditions – anxiety and depression coexist – the risk of symptoms can worsen and your vulnerability can be further complicated, Conditions, such as a memory or a neurodegenerative disorder, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, or Parkinson’s disease.


Recognizing the Signs of Geriatric Anxiety

Your ability to recognize the symptoms of late-life anxiety is critical to be able to receive an accurate diagnosis and get the proper treatment. Unfortunately, these telltale signs and symptoms aren’t that obvious as they can frequently develop slowly, and progressively. With the varied symptoms, it can be easy to miss the symptoms all together.

According to Beyond Blue, anxiety can manifest itself in behavioral, physical and emotional symptoms.  Behavioral symptoms include avoiding certain places, circumstances, or things that trigger anxiety, urges to carry out rituals to ease the symptoms, not being self-assured or poor self-esteem, trouble making decisions, and being easily frightened. The emotional symptoms that usually accompany geriatric anxiety are overwhelm, fear or intense worry about physical symptoms of an undiagnosed medical condition, tension, uncontrollable panic, and upsetting thoughts that may manifest in dreams.

The physical symptoms of anxiety among senior adults can be strong and affect many aspects of daily life.  These include racing heartbeat, gastric problems, dizziness, confusion or disorientation, pain or aches, muscle tension, numbness or tingling sensations, hot or cold flushes, and sleeplessness. 


Ideas to Remember About Geriatric Anxiety

  • Seniors can often be hesitant to report their symptoms. This is among the reasons why recognition of symptoms is challenging. Many people may deny that they could be hindered by a condition like anxiety.  This could be because you have been independent for so long and you are not used to needing help.  Seeing others with serious physical diseases can discourage being open about something you think you can work through on your own.
  • Usually, the onset of anxiety has occurred earlier. Studies reveal that only about three percent of those with geriatric anxiety develop generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), the prevalent type among adults over 65. In many cases, anxiety symptoms are first experienced when younger, and they can resurface because of another disorder.
  • The symptoms can be physical in nature. It has been noted that seniors with anxiety often experience physical symptoms, rather than emotional. This may be because anxiety contributes to the decline of other bodily systems and physical health in general.  Which makes it difficult to recognize and diagnose.
  • Drugs can be a treatment option, but there may be side effects. Prescription drugs can be useful in the treatment of anxiety, particularly in the severe types.  Though, when considering the possible side effects, the use of prescription drugs may not be the best choice for you.
  • A good first-line treatment is “cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT).”  many health professionals may advocate the use of CBT as an alternative therapy for treating generalized anxiety disorder after weighing the possible adverse effects of some medications. It is interesting to note, a significant number of studies support its use, however, this approach entails certain skills, particularly in a multipronged treatment plans.


Recapturing Life with Counseling

If untreated anxiety can lead to a lot of other unwanted physical health issues. These can include depression, bipolar disorder, dysthymia, substance abuse, body aches, and others.   Fortunately, anxiety can be treated and it’s good to know you have options.  Seeking therapy can be the answer you’ve been looking for to resolve the burden of anxiety.  Know that you don’t have to endure this condition alone. If you ready to rediscover a new purpose and well-being, calling Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC, can be your first step.

Your senior years can be the productive, exciting, and gratifying time you deserve.  If anxiety has recently affected you to the extent that it has prevented you from pursuing the kind of life you desire or from enjoying more meaningful relationships, or your just ready to ease this pain, then now is the time to take action.  Alleviate the symptoms of your anxiety and enjoy the pleasures of life again by enlisting the care and expertise of an experienced professional therapist independently contracted with Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC.

Call today to make an appointment!


Related Articles:


Serving Areas: Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC

Counties: Moore county, NC, Lee County, Hoke County, Chatham County

Areas: Pinehurst NC, West End NC, Taylortown NC, Seven Lakes NC, Eagle Springs NC, Jackson Springs NC, Foxfire NC, Candor NC, Norman NC, Ellerbe NC, Rockingham NC

Zip Codes: 27281, 27376, 28315, 28347, 28350, 28373, 28374, 28387, 28388, 28394

Kelly ErkenBrack, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 3+) Children, Teens, Adults, Couples and Families. Anxiety, Depression, Grief and Loss, Mood Disorders, Trauma, Adjustments and Life Transitions, ADHD, Behavioral Issues, Parenting, Relationship Concerns, Self Esteem
Insurance: BCBSTricare Prime/Select, Medicare and Cash
Credit Cards:  
Location: Pinehurst, NC

Robin Caswell, MSW, LCSW

Specializes in: (Ages 5+), Individuals, Adults, Anxiety, Depression, Grief, Loss, ADHD, ODD, Trauma/PTSD, LGBTQ, Self-Harm, Military Family Life, Mood Disorders, OCD, Phobias
Insurance: BCBS, Tricare, Medicare and Cash
Credit Cards:  
Location: Pinehurst, NC

Counseling Information

How Do I Set Up my FIRST Appointment?

  • Call: 910-420-3600 (Fastest way to schedule)
  • Text: (910) 308-3291 (Reply will be via phone)
  • Click here and use our Contact Form (You must include your phone number, because replies will only be made by telephone to ensure security/privacy)
  • Call or Text for your New Patient Appointment Anytime!
  • Appointment scheduling for NEW clients: Mon-Fri 8:30am-5pm
  • Established/Standing Appointments are made directly with your therapist!
  • Referrals: MOST beneficiaries do NOT need a Referral!

Other Contact Info

If you have a compliment, concern or comments please contact:

Contact Management: click here

If you need to speak specifically to the owner Click here and use our Contact Form

Carolina Counseling Services – Pinehurst, NC

45 Dowd Circle Suite 5
PinehurstNC 28374

Our Mailing Address:

PO BOX 9909
Fayetteville, NC 28311