The condition tends to strike many older adults, but there are ways to counter its paralyzing effects.
More and more, do you find yourself fighting feelings of worry? Do you feel increasingly anxious and tense? Do you obsess about things that may or may not happen? If so, you may be one of the millions who suffer from anxiety.
Anxiety can develop from many uncontrollable factors, such as genetics, personality, and life events, but the main issue for many older men is that they have too much time on their hands, according to Dr. Cornelia Cremens, a psychiatrist with Harvard-affiliated Massachusetts General Hospital.
“Men are used to working, being active, and having goals they want to accomplish. It keeps their body and mind engaged,” she says.
“But when they retire and life slows down, they are not prepared for that kind of dramatic shift. This idleness can trigger anxiety because they feel they have lost their purpose and focus.”
How Anxiety Affects You
Other life-changing events also can increase anxiety, such as financial stress, health issues like heart attacks or injuries that affect mobility, or the death of a spouse or friend. Sometimes certain situations, like large social settings or noisy or unfamiliar environments, can cause anxiety.
“Anxiety is highly treatable, but men may not want to talk about it and feel they can take care of the problem themselves,” says Dr. Cremens. “But men should not take their situation lightly, as anxiety can have a lasting impact on their life.”
People with anxiety can have an array of symptoms that may linger off and on for days, weeks, or even months. You may experience one of more of the following:
- being easily fatigued
- trouble concentrating
- difficulty falling or staying asleep.
Anxiety also can trigger panic attacks, marked by a rapid heart rate, excessive sweating, and trouble breathing. The symptoms often subside after a while or if you remove yourself from the stressful environment or situation. Anxiety can make it harder to maintain a healthy lifestyle, too. You may be less motivated to exercise and more likely to increase your intake of high-fat and high-sugar foods and alcohol.