Depression in Older Adults

Depression later in life has serious consequences for individuals and for society as a whole.  For patients and caregivers, depression can increase distress and strain relationships.  There is evidence that depression in the elderly is strongly associated with poor cognitive function and decline.  Depression can also worsen other disabilities and increase mortality rates, due to both medical illness and suicide. 

Many people assume that feeling depressed is a normal part of growing older. But regardless of age, no one should have to suffer from the debilitating impact of depression when effective, proven treatment strategies are available that can help alleviate symptoms and improve the quality of life for patients at all stages of life. 

How common is depression in older adults?

Depression is widespread in the elderly population.  A many as 20% of seniors may experience depression, and an even higher percentage of seniors receiving care in hospitals and nursing homes.  Research indicates that, among older adults, women are nearly twice as men to suffer from depression. 

How is depression diagnosed and treated in seniors?

It can be difficult to arrive at an accurate diagnosis of depression in an older adult.  Health care professionals must differentiate between depression’s symptoms and those of other illnesses common in an older population such as dementia, stroke and other conditions that can impact brain function.  

As our population ages, more research is needed to understand how to best diagnose and treat depression in seniors.  To learn about the symptoms of depression and how it is commonly diagnosed, click here.  To read about treatment options that may be employed to manage depression, click here.