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.
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