Depressive disorders in older medical inpatients.
Symptoms of depression that are temporary or caused by physical illness can be difficult to differentiate from those that represent a depressive disorder. A diagnosis of depressive disorder depends on the underlying cause, and on the nature, severity and duration of symptoms. Management involves accurate diagnosis and treatment of medical illness, practical interventions to resolve concurrent family, social and economic stressors, and emotional support. Cognitive, behavioral and brief psychodynamic therapies may be helpful in selected cases. Antidepressants and electroconvulsive therapy have a role in the treatment of severe or persistent depression associated with suicidal behavior, marked psychomotor retardation, starvation or other life-threatening symptoms. Suicidal thoughts are frequent in older patients with concurrent major depression and chronic illness, and measures to ensure patient safety are a priority.
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