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Prognosis of Depression in the Elderly

A Comparison with Younger Patients

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Henry Brodaty
Affiliation:
Academic Department of Psychogeriatrics, University of New South Wales and Mood Disorders Unit, Prince Henry Hospital, Little Bay, 2036, Australia
Lynne Harris
Affiliation:
Department of Behavioural Sciences, University of Sydney, Australia
Karin Peters
Affiliation:
Academic Department of Psychogeriatrics, Prince Henry Hospital
Kay Wilhelm
Affiliation:
Mood Disorders Unit, Prince Henry Hospital, and School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales
Ian Hickie
Affiliation:
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales and Mood Disorders Unit, Prince Henry Hospital
Philip Boyce
Affiliation:
Department of Psychiatry, Nepean Hospital, University of Sydney
Philip Mitchell
Affiliation:
School of Psychiatry, University of New South Wales and Mood Disorders Unit, Prince Henry Hospital
Gordon Parker
Affiliation:
University of New South Wales, and Mood Disorders Unit, Prince Henry Hospital
Kerrie Eyers
Affiliation:
Mood Disorders Unit, Prince Henry Hospital

Abstract

The prognosis of depression in the elderly was investigated in a mixed-age sample of 242 consecutive referrals, with DSM-III defined unipolar major depressive episode, to a specialist unit for mood disorders. Subjects were followed up at about 1 and 3.8 years. There was no significant difference in outcome between younger (under 40 years), middle aged (40–59 years) and older (60 years or more) depressed patients. For the 61 elderly subjects with depression, prognosis improved with time, with 25% having a lasting recovery at the first and 41% at the second follow-up. Early onset, recurrence, and poor premorbid personality were associated with a worse prognosis. Three (5%) elderly depressives had committed suicide and seven (11%) had died from natural causes by the second follow-up. Despite some methodological limitations, our findings suggest a more optimistic outlook and the need for longer, more assertive treatment for elderly, depressed patients.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1993 

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