The intervals before and after major surgery is a high-risk period for older adults; in this setting, anxiety and depression are common and serious problems. We comprehensively reviewed current evidence on perioperative anxiety and depression in older adults, focusing on epidemiology, impact, correlates, medication risks, and treatment. Principles of perioperative mental healthcare are proposed based on the findings. Prevalence estimates of clinically significant anxiety and depression range from 5% to 45% for anxiety and 6% to 52% for depression, depending on surgical populations and measurement tools. Anxiety and depression may increase risk for surgical complications and reduce patient participation during rehabilitation. Medical comorbidities, pain, insomnia, cognitive impairment, and delirium are common co-occurring problems. Concomitant uses of central nervous system acting medications (benzodiazepines, anticholinergics, and opioids) amplify the risks of delirium and falls. Based on these findings, we propose that anxiety and depression care should be part of perioperative management in older adults; components include education, psychological support, opioid-sparing pain management, sleep management, deprescribing central nervous system active medications, and continuation and optimization of existing antidepressants. More research is needed to test and improve these care strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)996-1008
Number of pages13
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2023


  • Aging
  • elderly
  • intervention
  • mood disorder
  • operative
  • surgery


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