Managing depression in geriatric populations.
BACKGROUND: Late life depression is an increasingly acute public health concern due to the quickly expanding population of elderly in the US. The last few years has witnessed an explosion in the research literature changing our understanding of this disease. METHODS: Published studies over the past decade focusing on the epidemiology, phenomenology, comorbidity, and treatment of depression in the elderly were reviewed. RESULTS: The prevalence and phenomenology of depression in late-life varies with age. It remains highly prevalent in the elderly population, and certain vulnerable populations of older adults are at special risk. Further, the morbidity of late-life depression on physical health, social support systems, and overall functioning is considerable, making depression a leading cause of disability in elderly adults and a risk factor for mortality and suicide as well. Findings suggest a heterogeneity in etiology and in treatment response among older adults with depression, and differences from younger adults as well. CONCLUSIONS: This paper reviews our current understanding of late life depression and the implications for treatment and prevention. In addition, we review current research questions and future considerations in this field.
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