Older Adults Have Lower Rates of Mood, Anxiety Disorders

WEDNESDAY May 5, 2010 -- A new report finds that older people have lower rates of mental illnesses related to mood and anxiety than younger people, but the conditions remain common, especially in women.

Researchers led by Amy L. Byers of the University of California at San Francisco analyzed a survey of 2,575 people aged 55 and older.

Five percent said they'd had a mood disorder -- such as depression or bipolar disorder -- within the past year. Twelve percent reported anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, generalized anxiety disorder and post-traumatic stress disorder, and 3 percent said they had both mood and anxiety disorders.

The oldest people in the study, those aged 85 and older, were the least likely to report having the conditions.

In general, women had around double the rate of the disorders as men did.

"Given the rapid aging of the U.S. population, the potential public health burden of late-life mental health disorders will likely grow as well," the researchers wrote. They stressed the importance of "continued epidemiologic monitoring of the mental health status" of older Americans, from the youngest in that age group to the oldest.

The study appears online May 3 in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

More information

The National Alliance on Mental Illness has more on mental illness in older people.

Posted: May 2010


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