Can you get into a bad mood or become quite anxious? The answer probably is a relative “Yes!”
Mood disorders are characterized by the lowering or elevation of a person’s mood while anxiety disorders are characterized by excessive and persistent feelings of apprehension, worry, and even fear. Both types of disorders may have a major impact on an individual’s everyday life and can range from single short-lived episodes to chronic disorders. (1)
But, what happens when we become older, when we retire, and when we become a senior and ‘slow down?’ When we are 30 to perhaps 55 years old, life is fast-paced. We work too hard and too many hours in a job, enjoy an active social life, focus on strenuous physical activity and, for many, we bring up children and help manage a family. As is said, we’re ‘burning the candle at both ends’ and it can all be pretty physically and mentally demanding at times, producing, as a result, bad moods and anxiety and even depression in too many cases.
After 55 years old, one might reasonably conclude that, in one’s senior years, without the stress and strain of such lifestyle demands, one might be less likely to suffer from bad moods and anxiety. But, this conclusion is surprising not that accurate. The recent Report, Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Canada, 2016, is the first publication to include administrative health data from the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System (CCDSS) for the national surveillance of mood and anxiety disorders among Canadians aged one year and older. The Report does acknowledge that, yes, a higher percentage of Canadians in the age group 30 to 54 years old suffer from bad moods and anxiety; however, the difference compared to the age groups 55 to 74 years old and those 80 plus years is quite small, indicating that older people, seniors, who have ‘slowed down’ still experience comparable levels of bad moods and anxiety to those younger, even though they apparently are experiencing fewer demands on their lives.
And, why is this so? The answer lies perhaps in the new possible factors which predominate in a senior’s life: cognitive impairment, chronic health conditions, functional disability, bereavement, loneliness, and a diminishing of a social network. (2) It’s important, therefore, to recognize why an older person becomes anxious or in a bad mood so that, as a caregiver, one can help in making life easier for your loved one in those ‘golden’ years.
(1) Report from the Canadian Chronic Disease Surveillance System: Mood and Anxiety Disorders in Canada, 2016, p2.
(2) Ibid, p13.
By Brian Porter, B.A.,M.Ed.