Depression in the Elderly (cont.)
In this Article
What treatments are available for depression in the elderly?
There are several treatment options available for depression. They include medicine, psychotherapy or counseling, or electroconvulsive therapy. Sometimes, a combination of these treatments may be used.
How do antidepressants relieve depression in the elderly?
Most of the available antidepressants are believed to be equally effective in elderly adults. But the risk of side effects or potential reactions with other medicines must be carefully considered. For example, certain older antidepressants such as amitriptyline and imipramine can be sedating or cause a sudden drop in blood pressure when a person stands up. That can lead to falls and fractures.
Antidepressants may take longer to start working in older people than they do in younger people. Since elderly people are more sensitive to medicines, doctors may prescribe lower doses at first. In general, the length of treatment for depression in the elderly is longer than it is in younger patients.
Can psychotherapy help relieve depression in the elderly?
Most depressed people find that support from family and friends, involvement in self-help and support groups, and psychotherapy are helpful. Psychotherapy is especially beneficial for those who prefer not to take medicine and who have mild to moderate symptoms. It also is helpful for people who cannot take drugs because of side effects, interactions with other medicines, or other medical illnesses.
Psychotherapy in older adults can address a broad range of functional and social consequences of depression. Many doctors recommend the use of psychotherapy in combination with antidepressant medicines.