Mental Health: Understand the most common mental disorders in old age

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Hereditary factors and lifestyle are some of the main factors associated with the appearance of psychic diseases in the elderly

According to the latest global report from the World Health Organization (WHO), one in 10 people worldwide suffers from some mental disorder. This represents 10% of the world’s population – approximately 700 million people – who suffer from the loss of part of the brain’s functional reserve, making them more vulnerable to coping with stress, interpersonal relationships, and even the quality of their choices.

In the case of the elderly, geriatrician Aline Thomaz explains that there are many factors that influence mental health, but the biological process of ageing alone is not associated with any disease, but rather with the reduction of our functional reserves. “Life experiences (trauma or abuse), biological and genetic factors, external factors typical of modern life (such as stress), family problems and mourning for the loss of people close to them, and the frustration of not being able to perform some activities Part of their daily life, are some of the aspects that may favor the appearance of psychic illnesses,

Among the mental conditions that most affect the elderly, the geriatrician highlights the cases of depression, anxiety disorders (panic and generalized anxiety disorder), bipolarity, schizophrenia and dementia – the main type being Alzheimer’s disease, followed by Vascular Dementia.

mental disorder

The geriatrician explains below the mental conditions that most affect the elderly:


“The condition makes one feel discouraged, sad, helpless, unmotivated or disinterested in life in general. We have two types of cases: reactive depression, that is, when these feelings last for a short period of time and the symptoms disappear with the resolution of the problem that caused it or a major depression that lasts for more than two weeks and interferes with the Activities, such as caring for the family, social life, professional or school performance, requiring specialized treatment. “


“Also known as manic-depressive illness, it is a mental disorder that causes unusual changes in mood, activity levels, and ability to perform day-to-day tasks. There is an alternation of episodes of euphoria (mania) and depression, with intervals of normality. Both one episode and the other involve clear changes in mood and activity levels. “


“A chronic brain disease that affects about 1% of the world’s population. It has several manifestations, affecting several areas of psychic functioning that may include delusions, hallucinations, problems with thinking and concentration and lack of motivation. “


“Describes a set of symptoms that may include memory loss, language and thinking difficulties, and inability to solve problems. Often, these changes are subtle in the early stage of the disease but will progress over time, greatly affecting their daily lives. The person may have changes in their mood and behaviour and get to the point of no longer being able to take care of themselves. “

Aline also points out that depression and anxiety can improve with treatment and, in many cases, the patient recovers completely and can get cured. “There is specific drug treatments and psychotherapy that, especially together, are very effective. Alzheimer’s and schizophrenia are incurable diseases that can be controlled, but they are progressive and irreversible. “

Therefore, the geriatrician warns of various signs, symptoms and suspicious behavior, such as walking away from people and usual activities, having little or no energy (anhedonia), frequent pain and / or unexplained pain, feeling confused, forgetful, Angry, upset, worried or afraid, having mood swings, negative and persistent thoughts, hearing voices or believing in things that are not true, thinking about hurting yourself or others and being unable to perform everyday tasks, such as caring for Their children, home or work activities.

People should also maintain a positive mental health as an alternative to avoid these mental conditions during the ageing process. “It is important to fulfil their full potential, facing the tensions of everyday life, being productive at work (including voluntary service) and making meaningful contributions to their communities.” Among the recommendations are “an active social life, being positive about life and self, staying physically active, helping others (volunteering is a great option), getting enough sleep – feeling the next day And not tired or drowsy during the day – and develop skills for the best coping of the problems,

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