Ask the Expert: Identifying Clinical Anxiety in Older Adults Can Be Tricky

Question: What should I do if suspect I have anxiety?

Dr. Lynn Northrop, a lead clinical psychologist affiliated with Sharp responds:

Dr. Lynn NorthropIdentifying clinical anxiety in older adults can be a little bit tricky. And the reason for this is, most often, when older adults seek help or report signs of anxiety, it’s going to be in the medical setting. And it’s probably going to be accompanied with reports of physical health problems because that’s generally what people will go to their primary care doctor for. So, when older adults visit their primary care physician, and they’re talking about being worried about these medical problems, the physician may choose to focus more on the medical problems than on the anxiety. If it’s a clinical anxiety, it may just get missed because the focus gets placed on the physical health.

Regardless of what types of symptoms that you may be experiencing, it is important to know that there are effective treatments out there. And your primary care provider is a good place to start. It’s important to be specific when you approach your provider and say "You know what? I’m anxious, I’m worried a lot, and I think I may need help for this."


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