Mental health - Helping an older person who is experiencing anxiety?

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An elearning module or article about an e-learning module which is run an managed by the British Geriatrics Society
Sarah McGeorge
Date Published:
01 October 2012
Last updated: 
01 May 2012

Anxiety is the ‘unpleasant emotion associated with a sense of impending danger that is not obvious to an observer’ (Marks 2001). Feeling anxious from time to time is a normal human experience. When someone is anxious they might experience feelings of tension, nervousness, heightened awareness, fear or uncertainty, dry mouth and throat, and tightness in the chest. They might appear ‘edgy’, irritable and tearful or be unable to relax.

Anxiety becomes abnormal if it is out of proportion to the situation, if it persists when the situation is resolved or if it appears for no apparent reason. The effects of anxiety are caused by a physiological process. The release of adrenaline prepares the body for a ‘fight or flight’ response. As well as changes in behaviour, signs that someone is anxious include sweating, pallor, dilated pupils, trembling, raised blood pressure and pulse, need to pass urine urgently, diarrhoea or nausea.