Skip to Main Content

PSY 180 - Psychology of Aging - Textbook


Common Mental Health Concerns

2019 © Mental Health Association of Maryland. All Rights Reserved.

Basic Terms

  • anxiety disorder
  • panic disorder
  • phobias
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • hoarding Disorder
  • depression


(Learning Objectives, Key Points, and Basic Terms content by Professor Stacey Cooper is licensed under CC BY 4.0.)


"In later life, mental illness symptoms tend to be more physical. Fatigue, muscle aches, pain, sleeplessness and digestive problems are common examples of the physical manifestation of a mental disorder. With any concerning change in an older adult’s physical condition, especially if the older person is taking medication, a health care provider should be consulted. Conditions such as vitamin deficiency, thyroid disorder, infection, and medication side effects must be ruled out or treated before a mental disorder can be appropriately determined."

Anxiety Disorder


"Everyone feels some degree of anxiety from time to time. We have all felt the racing heart, queasy stomach, or sweaty palms associated with an anxious feeling. But when this feeling becomes so intense and prolonged that it interferes with daily living, it is possible that an anxiety disorder could be the cause. Anxiety can be described as an ongoing feeling of worry, distress, fear, or a rising sense of dread that something is very wrong. Up to 14% of older adults meet the diagnostic criteria for an anxiety disorder. "


Panic Disorder


"Panic disorder is a type of anxiety disorder in which an individual will experience an intense episode of anxiety commonly called a panic attack. The symptoms of a panic attack usually last between five and 30 minutes. Symptoms can seemingly come out of nowhere or they may be triggered by a predictable circumstance. A panic attack shares symptoms with a heart attack and because the risk for heart attack is much higher among older adults, the event should not be dismissed as panic until a heart attack is ruled out or unless the individual had experienced several panic attacks in the past and is sure that is what is occurring."



"Phobias are a type of anxiety in which a person has developed a dreaded fear of an object, place, or circumstance. "


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder


"OCD involves persistent and distressing thoughts (obsessions) over which a person feels no control. In response to these thoughts, people develop repetitive actions (compulsions) to try to prevent or reduce their obsession or prevent some dreaded event or situation from occurring."

Hoarding Disorder


"Hoarding disorder involves the accumulation of things coupled with an inability to part from possessions to the point that an individual’s living space is no longer functional and has become hazardous."




"Depression is a serious and common disorder of mood that involves mind, body and behavior. It affects the way you feel about yourself and others and the way you participate in life. Most likely, depression is caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors. Many people experience their first depressive episode after the age of 65 and a majority of those people go untreated due, in part, to the myth that depression is a normal part of aging."