Study Examines Depression Risk, Prevention Possibilities in Elderly

The elderly population represents one of the most at-risk age groups for depression, as the occurrence of medical health issues along with potential declines in socialization present ample opportunities for emotional and mental difficulties. Treating depression among the elderly is an important issue within the mental health fields, but prevention is often seen as a more effective and desirable route. Working precisely on the prevention of mental health concerns in elderly clients, a study based at the University of Rochester’s Medical Center has recently published data describing the most at-risk clients of those identified for elderly depression, creating valuable notes on the expected number needed to treat in order to provide meaningful prevention services.

Participants were gathered from a number of sources, and all were within an elderly demographic yet were not diagnosed with major depression. The researchers conducted annual in-person interviews over a period of one to four years for each participant, bolstering collected data with information from medical charts. After analyzing the data, the researchers found that around 5% of participants within an identifiable risk group developed depression and were given a diagnosis following the initial exam.

Based on this information, the study has suggested that the number needed to treat in order to establish positive prevention service is five. This number represents the treatment of five individuals exhibiting the identified at-risk symptoms in an effort to effectively prevent one case of major depression. The figure comprises a measure which may help both public and private institutions meet the needs of the elderly population before related mental health issues become debilitating. As the national population is set to see a significant rise in the proportion of elderly people in coming years, this greater attention to prevention efforts may provide a tangible increase in widespread well-being.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • wilkinson

    wilkinson

    December 24th, 2009 at 10:34 AM

    Well I think one of the toughest things for old people is that they do not have enough activites to be a part of, and this can really be eliminated by involving communities and different groups in the various towns and cities.

  • Emily J.

    Emily J.

    December 24th, 2009 at 8:18 PM

    Many old people are plagued by the empty-nest syndrome. With kids most people’s kids moving out and many even going to a different part of the country or even to a different country all together, the old parents are left with a very empty feeling.

  • Ronald

    Ronald

    December 25th, 2009 at 2:47 AM

    Centres wherein elders can join in and spend some time together, and have a few activites like indoors sports, etc can be set up to make them feel less of being alone and keep them going :)

  • ferdinand jones

    ferdinand jones

    December 28th, 2009 at 10:46 AM

    I just think older people who live with their children are much happier than those who don’t and that the love and care of near and dear ones plays a very important role in keeping them healthy.

  • Theresa

    Theresa

    December 29th, 2009 at 7:28 AM

    There are times and situations that nursing home facilities are the only way that older people are going to stand a chance of leading a longer life. At least there you will find trained people who know how to help them and hopefully make their final years worth living. But that does not excuse the family from sharing a role in this. I feel so sad when you hear about people being left in these homes for years with no family or friends who visit and I know that this has to hasten death for many because they no longer feel like they have anything to live for.

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