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Depression in Older Adults

by khsaue01 last modified Apr 06, 2009 10:39 PM

Facts about Geriatric Depression

Geriatric depression is widespread. At least 16% of patients receiving care in a primary care setting and a higher percentage in hospitals and nursing homes exhibit depression. At least 15-20% of the elderly in the general population may experience depression. This condition is a complex problem in the elderly. It is particularly difficult to diagnose because many elders also suffer from medical illnesses, dementia syndromes, and other complicating conditions. Arriving at an accurate diagnosis requires that clinicians differentiate between such problems as dementia, stroke, and other types of brain injuries and illnesses.

Depression in older adults can be disabling, contributing to problems with activities of daily living and thus increasing their dependence on others and the health care system. Some of the consequences of  depression in later life are increased health costs, patient and caregiver distress, amplified disabilities, and increased mortality related to medical illness and suicide.

The elderly are more at risk for depression and suicide due to the losses they experience, including death of a spouse, death of friends, retirement, and medical illness and disability. With an increasingly older population, this group requires closer examination and understanding of the mechanisms by which depression is manifested and treated. The Geriatric Program at the University of Louisville Depression Center is committed to providing improved diagnosis and treatment for older adults with mood disorders.

References:
Kaplan, H.I. and Sadock, B.J. (1998). Synopsis of Psychiatry. Philadelphia: Lippincott, Williams, Wilkens.

Oslin, D.W., Strein, J., Katz, I.R., Edell, W.S., TenHave, T. (2000). Change in disability follows impatient treatment for late life depression. Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, 48(4):357-62.

Reynolds, C.F., and Kupfer, D.J. (1999). Depression and aging: A look to the future. Psychiatric Services, 50 (9): 1167-72.

Small, G.W. (1998). Treatment of geriatric depression. Depression and Anxiety Suppl. 1:32-42

Steffans, D.C., Skoog, I., Norton, M.C., Hart, A.D., Tschanz, J.T., Plassman, B.L., Wyse, B.W., Welsh-Bohmer, K.A., and Breitner, J.C. (2000). Prevalence of depression and its treatment in an elderly population: the Cache County study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 57(6)601-7.

Yafffe, K., Blackwell, T., Gore, R., Sands, L., Reus, V., Browner, W.S. (1999). Depressive symptoms and cognitive decline is nondemented elderly women: a prospective study. Archives of General Psychiatry, 56(5): 425-30.

Adapted with permission from the University of Michigan Depression Center Web site.

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