Feeling anxious or nervous is a common emotion and a normal reaction to stress. But when anxiety becomes frequent and affects daily tasks, social life, and relationships, it becomes a disorder. An anxiety disorder causes feelings of fear, worry, apprehension, or dread that are excessive or disproportional to the problems or situations that are feared. Some individuals may avoid social situations, and lose interest in normal daily activities. Loss of sleep, alcohol abuse and depression have been linked to untreated anxiety.
“Older adults may not recognize the symptoms or consequences of chronic, untreated anxiety,” says Marcie Link, a clinical social worker with Visiting Nurse & Hospice of Fairfield County. “Or they may not seek treatment because they have suffered symptoms of anxiety for most of their lives and believe the feelings are normal.”