Getting Older – Part 1

Getting Older – Part 1

by Dr Emma Gray - 10th November, 2014

In the first part of this blog we highlight the psychological characteristics that are necessary to allow us to embrace the ageing process and that protect us from problems such as anxiety, panic and depression later on in life.

On a day to day basis we seem to be reasonably skilled at avoiding the reality of our mortality, if we weren’t we probably wouldn’t leave the house and certainly wouldn’t get in a car. There are some people who struggle with such day to day tasks (for example those suffering from anxiety based mental health problem like agoraphobia, panic attacks and obsessive compulsive disorder {OCD}) but it is a fear of losing control and the resulting social embarrassment that drives such avoidant behaviours rather than a fear of death.

However, this ability to sideline an awareness of our ultimate demise becomes increasingly harder as we age, as physical changes bring the reality into sharper focus. Being able to embrace the fact that life has a time limit and that this grows closer with every passing day is dependent on a number of psychological factors: robust self esteem and confidence in our capacity to cope with challenges, an ability to tolerate and manage regret, a clearly defined yet flexible role/purpose and an accurate and helpful thinking style that allows us to hold on to and enjoy achievement and shake off failure and disappointment. As time passes and the robustness of youth fades an absence of these psychological elements leaves the individual increasing vulnerable to age related depression and anxiety.

In the second and third part of this blog we will look in detail at how self esteem, managing regret, role and thinking style influence our ability to adjust to the reality of advancing years and accept and embrace the middle to latter phases of our life. Click below to navigate.

If you are suffering with any of the issues discussed in this article and would like to seek professional help then you may find our Problems Pages helpful.

Dr Emma Gray

Dr Emma Gray

I am often the first person with whom my patients share significant and intimate thoughts and memories; I never take that privileged position for granted nor the opportunity to help someone to feel better about themselves and discover a more fulfilling life. One of my colleagues once described me as a natural psychologist; I guess she was alluding to the fact that I feel at ease being a therapist, I can empathise with people’s distress and discomfort but don’t feel overwhelmed by it, I can understand their problem and know how to help, it has always just felt like what I should be doing.

Read more about my approach to counselling here...

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