What is geriatric psychiatry?

Strictly defined, geriatric psychiatry is any treatment for people aged 65 or over. At CPCH, we think a more useful way to think about geriatric psychiatry is that aging can trigger mental health concerns that were not present in youth. Below are a few common problems we see in people over 65:

Difficulty Coping with Multiple Losses

As people age, their friends and family age too. Important relationships are lost when friends and family move, become ill, or die. Physical health changes and people can suffer loss of mobility, hearing, and vision. Some people may have coped well with losses when they were younger but now are having trouble adjusting to loss and find themselves depressed or anxious. Geriatric psychiatry can help address these problems with psychotherapy and/or medications.

Poor Sleep

In normal aging, sleep patterns change. However, many people have significant impairment in falling asleep or staying asleep, and poor sleep leads to poor energy during the day. There are many possible causes of poor sleep in older adults. A psychiatrist can help identify the source of the sleep problem and, if necessary, select sleep medications which are safer in older adults.

Too Many Medications

These days, older adults tend to be taking multiple medications which can cause psychiatric problems like depression, anxiety, memory loss, or trouble concentrating. Some medications may even cause bizarre symptoms, like hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that aren’t real) and delusions (believing things which aren’t real). A psychiatrist can help review medications to avoid these problems, and sometimes a simple medication change will resolve a significant psychiatric symptom.

175673085The Mind-Body Connection

Physical illness and psychiatric symptoms are often linked. For example, people with chronic pain complaints or irritable bowel syndrome may benefit from treatment with antidepressant medication.

We understand very little about the mind-body connection but it becomes more important as the body ages. Sometimes a person will visit multiple medical specialists for a physical problem with no clear diagnosis and multiple failed treatments. In some cases, consultation with a psychiatrist is recommended to see if treatment of the mind can help with treatment of the body.

If you or a loved one are over 65 and experiencing any of these problems, call us at 919-636-5240 option #1 or email us at office@cognitive-psychiatry.com to schedule an appointment.