Mental Illness: How Does it Effect Seniors?

Mental Illness: How Does it Effect Seniors?

As you may already know, mental illness doesn’t necessarily manifest in a recognizable form.  You’re not always going to recognize who is suffering.  Arguably that’s one of the toughest things about any mental illness, it can go unnoticed for a long time.

Mental Illness as defined by the Mayo Clinic:

Mental illness, also called mental health disorders, refers to a wide range of mental health conditions — disorders that affect your mood, thinking and behavior. Examples of mental illness include depression, anxiety disorders, schizophrenia, eating disorders and addictive behaviors.

How Does it Affect Seniors?

Mental illness can and will affect them in a similar way to people of any age, but with seniors you combine frailty and degeneration of the body & mind.  It’s common for older adults to have an onset of a depressive episode due to loss of cognition, loss of hearing, incontinence and many other factors, including loss of independence.  It can be hard to see life from their perspective, especially when we still have our independence and our faculties.

Common Mental Illness in Seniors

Depression :  Aging, loss of independence and loss of loved ones, undoubtedly attribute to growing depression in older adults

Anxiety :  Aging adults also become anxious about their failing bodies, the changing world around them and worries about what the future holds.

Dementia :  A decline in mental cognition that can be the culmination of untreated mental illness, among other things.

Suicidal Ideation :  The feeling of hopelessness and losing the desire to live when experiencing mental illnesses, trauma from the loss of a loved one, diagnosis of a terminal illness, and many others.

14 Warning Signs of Mental Illness

  • Feeling sad or down
  • Withdrawal from family & friends
  • Confusion
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Withdrawal from activities they once loved
  • Mood changes
  • Prominent low energy
  • Delusions
  • Problems sleeping
  • Cannot cope with stress
  • Problems with alcohol or drug use
  • Abundant fears or worries
  • Frequent anger or violence
  • Suicidal thinking


If you or someone you love is suffering from what appears to be mental illness, or you think they may be contemplating suicide, you’re not alone. Assess your local resources to get help.  Remember, you’re loved and you have a purpose in this life that’s worth living!


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