What is Geriatric Psychiatry?

Traditionally, geriatric psychiatry is the practice of psychiatry in adults age 65 and up. However, given the wide variation of health and socioeconomic factors at play, it may be more helpful to think about “SENIOR PSYCHIATRY” as the practice of psychiatry in older adults who have specific issues. Here are some of the issues specific to this population:

  1. Social transitions – out of the workplace, out of caregiving roles. This can be a very difficult process for people who identified strongly with their work or their caregiving role. Common psychiatric issues include depression and anxiety.
  2. Grief – the death of a spouse or the sudden loss of function due to medical issues are also common problems. Grief is a normal human emotion but it can lead to a major depressive episode or other symptoms. Counseling can be extremely helpful for these situations.
  3. Neurocognitive changes – the brain is an organ and it changes with age. Memory can start to change as early as age 35 and cardiovascular disease can impair brain function. History of drug or alcohol use, or active substance use can complicate the situation. Medications can affect cognitive functioning, especially opioid pain medications.
  4. Mind-body changes – the interplay between mind and body can get very complicated for older adults. Physical symptoms can lead to depression and anxiety; depression and anxiety can lead to physical symptoms. Understanding the mind-body can be complicated and having a team of primary care and psychiatry can be very helpful to improve outcomes and relieve symptoms.

If you’re experiencing any of these changes, please don’t hesitate to contact us. We can be reached at (919) 636-5240 and offer same- or next-day appointments.

To your mental health,
Dr. Jennie Byrne

Author
Dr. Jennie Byrne, M.D., PhD. With over 15 years of medical expertise, Jennie Byrne, MD, PhD, is a board-certified psychiatrist with experience treating mental health conditions in adults, including dementia, attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, and depression. After practicing in New York City for 12 years, Dr. Byrne relocated to North Carolina in 2008; she currently cares for patients in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, at Cognitive Psychiatry of Chapel Hill. Dr. Byrne earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. She then received her doctorate from New York University Department of Neurophysiology. She also has a doctorate of medicine from New York University School of Medicine. Dr. Byrne went on to complete a psychiatry residency at Mt. Sinai School of Medicine in New York. In addition to her work as a psychiatrist, Dr. Byrne has performed extensive research on attention, memory, and depression. As a board-certified adult psychiatrist, Dr. Byrne focuses on the needs of each patient to pro

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