Older Adults: Depression and Suicide Facts - Article Depression/depressive Disorders
Article: Older Adults: Depression and Suicide Facts
Older Americans are disproportionately likely to die by suicide. Comprising only 13 percent of the U.S. population, individuals age 65 and older accounted for 18 percent of all suicide deaths in 2000. Among the highest rates (when categorized by gender and race) were white men age 85 and older: 59 deaths per 100,000 persons in 2000, more than five times the national U.S. rate of 10.6 per 100,000.
Of the nearly 35 million Americans age 65 and older, an estimated 2 million have a depressive illness (major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, or bipolar disorder) and another 5 million may have â€œsubsyndromal depression,â€ or depressive symptoms that fall short of meeting full diagnostic criteria for a disorder.
Depression often co-occurs with other serious illnesses such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and Parkinsonâ€™s disease.
Both doctors and patients may have difficulty identifying the signs of depression. NIMH-funded researchers are currently investigating the effectiveness of a depression education intervention delivered in primary care clinics for improving recognition and treatment of depression and suicidal symptoms in elderly patients.
Research and Treatment
Research has revealed varying patterns of clinical and biological features among older adults with depression.
Both antidepressant medications and short-term psychotherapies are effective treatments for late-life depression.
Research has shown that certain types of short-term psychotherapy, particularly cognitive-behavioral therapy and interpersonal therapy, are effective treatments for late-life depression.
More studies are in progress on the efficacy and longer-term effectiveness of SSRIs and specific psychotherapies for depression in older persons. Findings from these studies will provide important data regarding the clinical course and treatment of late-life depression. Further research will be needed to determine the role of hormonal factors in the development of depression in older adults, and to find out whether hormone replacement therapy with estrogens or androgens is of benefit in the treatment of late-life depression.
Before you say,
Ask yourself if you feel:
- nervous or "empty"
- guilty or worthless
- very tired and slowed down
- you don't enjoy things the way you used to
- restless and irritable
- like no one loves you
- like life is not worth living
Or if you are:
- sleeping more or less than usual
- eating more or less than usual
- having persistent headaches, stomach aches, or chronic pain
These may be syptoms of Depression,
a treatable medical illness.
But your doctor can only treat you if
you say how you are really feeling.
Depression is not a normal part of aging.
Talk to your doctor
For More Information
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All material in this fact sheet is in the public domain and may be copied or reproduced without permission from the NIMH. Citation of NIMH as the source is appreciated.
NIH Publication No. 03-4593
Printed January 2001
Revised May 2003
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Source: National Institute of Mental Health
Cache Date: December 16, 2004
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