Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Unique Issues Affect Depression in Elderly People

With the U.S. population aging, it's likely that more and more individuals are worrying about whether the vicissitudes of growing older, such as declining health, death of loved ones, and loss of self-sufficiency, will propel them down a path to depression. Writer Carolyn Butler of the Washington Post explored this issue in depth in the paper's April 10 Health and Science section, coming to the conclusion that "aging does seem to make us more vulnerable to depression, but it's not a foregone conclusion."

She cited psychiatrists who explained that major depression affects only about 2% of those aged 65 or older, though minor depressions are more common, afflicting about 25% of older people. Other experts described factors that impact risk for late-life depression, including the role that medical conditions can play, and warning signs in elderly friends or relatives that might signal the presence of depression and the need for medical intervention. "The good news," Butler emphasized, "is that there is a range of highly effective pharmaceutical and psychotherapy options for dealing with depression at any age."

To read about depression and other mental health issues in the elderly, see Psychiatric News here and here. For much more on mental illness in the elderly see the new book Essentials of Geriatric Psychiatry, Second Edition, from American Psychiatric Publishing.

(image: Yuri Arcurs/


The content of Psychiatric News does not necessarily reflect the views of APA or the editors. Unless so stated, neither Psychiatric News nor APA guarantees, warrants, or endorses information or advertising in this newspaper. Clinical opinions are not peer reviewed and thus should be independently verified.