Elderly can become depressed. Depression is not a normal part of aging. Depression increases the risk of suicide, it is not self limiting, and can be treated. Also in the elderly.
There are some considerations when thinking of a depression in an elderly compared to adults:
- Additional screening is recommended in case of cognitive impairment
- Effective treatment of late life depression has been associated with improved quality of life, and reduced mortality
- Several forms of psychotherapy are also effective for late life depression: cognitive therapy, interpersonal therapy, problem solving therapy.
- When antidepressants are indicated, mono therapy is preferred, starting dose should be low compared to adults, up to 12 weeks of treatment may be needed to elicit a full response.
- Antidepressant treatment should be continued for at least 6-12 months when effective
- ECT is particularly indicated and efficacious with depression in elderly that is resistant to other treatments
National Institute of Mental health: Older Adults and Depression
Geriatric Mental Health Foundation
IMPACT evidence-based depression care
NEJM Volume 357:2269-2276 November 29, 2007 Number 22
Jürgen Unützer, M.D., M.P.H.