Depression

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Depression in the Elderly

While not all elderly individuals deal with the effects of depression, those that do frequently find that their symptoms are dismissed as a normal part of the aging process. Depression in the elderly, when undiagnosed and untreated, can cause needless suffering for the individual and his/her family.

Recognizing that depressive symptoms in older people are often missed, many health care professionals are learning to identify and treat the underlying depression. They have found that some depression symptoms may be the direct side-effect of a medication the individual is taking for a physical problem or may be caused by a co-occurring illness. If a diagnosis of depression is made, treatment with medication and/or psychotherapy can help the depressed person return to a happier, more fulfilling life.

Recent research suggests that psychotherapy is effective in reducing symptoms in short-term depression in older persons who are medically ill. Psychotherapy is also useful in older patients who cannot or will not take medication. Improved recognition and treatment of depression in late life can make the elderly years more enjoyable and fulfilling for the depressed person, their family, and their caretakers.

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