MENTAL HEALTH DIAGNOSIS IN AGING PATIENTS
This research reviews literature related to mental health diagnoses in aging patients. Addressed in this review are anxiety, depression/suicide, alcoholism, prescription medication misuse/abuse, non Alzheimer's dementia, and Alzheimer's disease.
Clinical anxiety in elderly persons is defined within the context of feelings experienced by a person (Lane, Terry, & Karageorghis, 1995, pp. 1255-1266). At one level, anxiety is defined as a feeling of mingled dread and apprehension about a person's future where no specific cause for such dread and apprehension is present. At another level anxiety is defined as a chronic feeling of fear by a person. This feeling may be mild in intensity or the feeling fear may be overwhelming for the person so affected. Anxiety also may be a secondary drive involving an acquired avoidance response. In this latter context, when in the presence of the conditioning stimulus, a person will display behavior that may be interpreted as evidence of the presence of anxiety. Such behavior may include spontaneous urination, spontaneous defecation, and an attempt to flee, among other actions.
Four general criteria establish the existence of anxiety (American Psychiatric Association, 1994, pp. 393-444). These criteria are as follows:
1. A person must experience feelings of apprehension or anxiousness to establish the presence of anxiety.
2. To establish the presence of anxiety, a person must not be able to attribute the feelings of apprehension or anxiousness to any specific causal factor.
3. A person must exhibit subjective behavioral responses to the feelings of apprehension or anxiousness in order to establish the presence of anxiety.
4. A person must exhibit objective behavioral, physiologic, and cognitive responses to the feelings of apprehension or anxiousness in order to establish the presence of anxiety.
The identification of an illness re...