Does mental illness get worse with age?

In this article, we will try to answer the question ‘Does mental illness get worse with age?’. In addition, the blog will give a better understanding of the relation between mental illness and age, different mental illnesses that can be seen with age and risk factors, and signs of mental illness in the elderly. 

Does mental illness get worse with age? 

Mental illness has no direct relation with age. Like wrinkles are a natural factor of aging, mental illness is not. Mental illness  can be tiring at any random age. In fact, research has shown that young adults face more mental illness than older adults. It is only that, with age people stop looking for treatment. 

However, this doe not mean that there are no mental illnesses that elderly are prone to. In fact, there is a section of mental health disorders like dementia, Alzheimer’s that only person of age experience. But again the majority of the mental illnesses are seen at any given age. Like our very law which does not differentiate between people of age, sex, color, etc, so does mental illness. 

Having said that, it may feel that mental illness is getting worse with age because, as you grow older you may be tired and drained out by the complications so the mental illness. Your brain might have become slow and your body even slower. Given these shortcomings, your ability to deal with certain mental illness goes down. You are of course not a stringer like when you were in your 20s. Your coping mechanisms also get old and rusty. Any episode of a mood disorder or a psychotic disorder will leave you exhausted more than ever. This may lead you to think that mental illnesses get worse with age. 

Mental illness and old age 

Mental illness refers to various mental health disorders that usually manifest at every age. These are psychological issues that influence your mindset, thinking, and conduct. Instances of psychological sickness incorporate despondency, uneasiness problems, schizophrenia, dietary issues, and addictive practices. 

We as a whole have emotional well-being concerns occasionally. We may feel lost or dismal when our adored one passes on or you lose an employment

. Your thinking, emotions, and behavior are affected by these major life-changing events. However, these issues manifest into mental illness only when they start to impair your daily functioning. 

In simple words, it is quite normal to grieve after the death of your loved one. However, when this grieving becomes neverending and you feel that you cannot get yourself out of the loop, to get back to your normal life, you may have to consult a mental health professional. 

When it comes to old age and mental illness, a report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention showed that about 20% of older adults in the United States of America are affected by Mental illness.  Unfortunately, nearly one in three of those seniors does not receive treatment.

Old age is certainly not an easy phase of life. Starting from the fact that you become dependent on others, to have lost most of your loved ones, old age becomes difficult. They live in constant anxiety about the leftover future. The lack of strength and the diminishing ability to do anything makes them feel sad and depressed. Furthermore, with retirement, an old person has most of his time in his hand. He suddenly loses the meaning and purpose of his life. He is no longer needed to take care of his family. He is constantly tired and looking for something. An old person has enough retrospect time to evaluate their life. Erik Erikson mentioned in his theory of psychosocial stages that the last stage of Ego Integrity vs Despair is faced by an old person. It is at this stage that we think back about our life. If are satisfied we develop integrity. However, those who believe they are not successful and achieve what was needed usually turn towards bitterness and despair causing certain mental health disorders. 

Adding on, it is highly rare that elderly people have no medical conditions. Some face with severe and chronic disorders, while others are lucky to fight with the small ones. The constant reminder that they are chronically ill, can make the person anxious or depressed. Therefore, it may be difficult for them to fight with these disorders. 

Different mental illnesses in relation to old age. 

As indicated by the World Health Organization, dementia and discouragement are the most pervasive mental and neurological conditions in the old, and they influence 5% and 7% of the world’s more established populace, individually. Moreover, tension issues are found in 3.8% of the more seasoned populace, trailed by substance use issues at 1%. 

Dementia and old age 

The most well-known psychological wellness issue among the older is extreme intellectual impedance or dementia. Around 5 million grown-ups 65 and more established have Alzheimer’s. Dementia is a reformist condition that prompts a degeneration of reasoning, memory, and conduct, including the capacity to perform routine exercises. The WHO properly portrayed dementia as an emotional well-being condition that is more predominant in mature age instead of it being a typical piece of maturing. 

The predominance rates for dementia are 50 million individuals worldwide and the projection is that the rate will increment to 82 million by 2030 and 152 million out of 2050. The primary driver of dementia incorporates Alzheimer’s, ongoing hypertension, Parkinson’s disorder, Huntington’s disorder, and so on.  Here and there, dementia is simply mistaken for simple cognitive decline because of mature age. 

Depression and mature age. 

Depression is generally found in all ages. Depression in the old regularly alluded to as a geriatric despondency. The side effects are like that of misery at different ages. Truth be told, sorrow in mature age is typically mistaken for general sleepiness or mature age blues. Misery and mind-set problems influence up to 5% of seniors 65 and more seasoned living in the network, and up to 13.5% of more established grown-ups who get home medical care or are hospitalized, as indicated by the CDC. They frequently go unnoticed and untreated on the grounds that it is mistaken for general weakness.

Anxiety and old age 

One research in the International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry cited that elderly people usually show varied symptoms of anxiety, but they can not be classified into anxiety disorders. The most prominent anxiety disorder that can be seen in older adults is Generalised Anxiety Disorder and Specific Phobias. While panic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) are less common.

As mentioned earlier in the blog, the key reason for anxiety at old age is the constant worry of what is going to happen, the idea of a changed lifestyle, and the worry of the near future. It is normal to worry about the health conditions or financial state, but a constant state of worry about issues that are not so worrisome is not a good sign. 

Bipolar disorder 

Bipolar disorder is a psychological well-being condition that causes wide changes in mindset and energy levels. Indications of this issue can show up at whatever stage in life, however, a great many people experience manifestations starting in their late adolescents or early youth. 

An individual with bipolar confusion faces serious emotional episodes from extraordinary misery to outrageous craziness. Whenever treated bipolar problems can come into control by age. Nonetheless whenever left untreated the indications progress with age and time, aggravating the condition. Over the long haul, an individual may encounter scenes that are more extreme and more regular than when indications originally showed up. The more extended indications proceed without treatment, the almost certain an individual may encounter issues in close to home connections or day by day obligations. Treatment of emotional well-being conditions is crucial.

Risk factors for mental illness in the elderly 

It may be possible that those who are completely okay in their adulthood, are now facing certain mental health conditions. Stress and emotionally charged thinking are common in all ages of human life. It may happen to teenagers as well s to the elderly. However, there are certain risk factors that play an important role in mental illnesses in people of age. Risk factors are certain conditions or instances that may increase the probability of a mental illness to occur. A few risk factors for mental illness in the elderly are: 

  • Alcohol or substance abuse
  • Dementia-causing illness (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease)
  • Illness or loss of a loved one
  • Long-term illness (e.g., cancer or heart disease)
  • Chronic pain
  • Medication interactions
  • Physical disability or loss of mobility
  • Physical illnesses that can affect emotion, memory, and thought
  • Poor diet or malnutrition

Signs of mental illness in old age 

As your father or mother ages, it is normal for them to have certain problems here and there. Forgetting things every once in a while is acceptable, but not always. A serious deterioration in cognitive ability is something one should be concerned about. Similarly for the other disorders like depression and anxiety. Having a low or restless day once in a while is normal at any age. However, living a life that way can be certainly harmful. Once your loved one ages, it is important that you pay attention to certain sigh and symptoms to make sure that they are doing okay. If you do not know what signs to look for. Do not worry. Below lie a few signs of mental illness in old age. 

  • Changes in appearance or dress, or issues keeping up the home or yard. 
  • Disarray, bewilderment, issues with fixation, or dynamic. 
  • Reduction or expansion in craving; changes in weight. 
  • Discouraged temperament enduring longer than about fourteen days. 
  • Sensations of uselessness, unseemly blame, powerlessness; considerations of self destruction. 
  • Cognitive decline, particularly later or transient memory issues. 
  • Actual issues that can’t in any case be clarified: hurts, obstruction, and so on 
  • Social withdrawal; loss of interest in things that used to be pleasant. 
  • Inconvenience taking care of funds or working with numbers. 
  • Unexplained exhaustion, energy misfortune, or rest changes.

If you notice any of these symptoms in your loved one for more than a regular time, it would be a better option to visit a mental health professional. 


In this article, we have tried to answer the question ‘Does mental illness get worse with age?’. In addition, the blog gave a better understanding of the relation between mental illness and age, different mental illnesses that can be seen with age and risk factors, and signs of mental illness in the elderly. 

FAQs: Does mental illness get worse with age

Why are mental health issues not addressed with the elderly?

Various symptoms of mental illnesses coincide with the symptoms of aging. Therefore many symptoms go unnoticed leading to ignorance of the disorder itself. 

What mental health issues are common in the elderly population?

The common mental illnesses in the elderly are Alzheimer’s, Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Schizophrenia, and Dementia. 

How can the elderly improve mental health?

Following are the ways an elderly can improve mental health: 

Play Mind Games. 
Get Physical. 
Stay Connected with Friends. 
Pick up a New Hobby. 
Caring for a Pet 
Visit a professional 


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