Research has generally confirmed that standard treatment approaches with proven efficacy in younger populations are likely to be successful when extended to the elderly, and that old age in itself should not be considered a contraindication to
their use. However, even though safe and effective treatments are available, nihilistic attitudes on the part of professionals and negative attitudes of the elderly themselves about psychiatric treatment remain barriers to treatment. Coexisting factors that frequently accompany advanced Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical age – for example, comorbid medical and neurological illness, substance abuse, dementia, and cognitive impairment – are probably greater influences than age itself on the effectiveness of antidepressant treatments in elderly patients. Such comorbidities may interfere with the modes of action of specific treatments. Conversely,
effective treatment can improve outcomes of medical treatments and rehabilitation Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical efforts for physical illness in the elderly, and influence survival (ie, depression Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical is a risk factor for mortality). Finally, depression is a risk factor for medical illness, and can complicate its treatment. Thus, there may be serious risks of not treating depression in physically ill elders (Reynolds, this issue, pp 95-99). Much of the treatment of depression in the elderly occurs within the primary medical health care context, if it occurs at all. Moreover, family members, typically spouses or daughters, provide the
bulk of care for older patients with mental disorders, often experiencing considerable stress in the process. A high proportion of patients experiencing Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical an episode of major depression in late life will have had at least one previous episode, or will have a subsequent recurrence. The literature pertaining to the long-term prevention of a recurrence of depression is discussed elsewhere in this volume (Reynolds, this issue, pp 95-99). These studies indicate that the longterm Inhibitors,research,lifescience,medical prevention of new episodes of disorder in elderly patients can be best achieved by maintaining patients on the same dosage of antidepressant medication that was used to Phosphatidylinositol diacylglycerol-lyase treat the acute episode, and by maintaining psychotherapy. Current recommendations are for treatment to be continued for at least 6 months after remission1 (Agency for Health Care Docetaxel purchase Policy and Research [AHCPR], 1993). Newer information, however, suggests a longer treatment period may be necessary (Reynolds, this issue, pp 95 -97). Pharmacotherapy Over the years, the amount of data from randomized clinical trials or controlled clinical observation of antidepressant agents in elderly patients has been rather limited, although in recent years there has been a significant increase. Trials in mixed-age adults include very few patients over 60 years of age.