Depression in the Elderly
What are the treatments for the condition?
The two most common ways of treating depression are with antidepressant medicines and psychotherapy. Often a combination is used. Occasionally, a person must be hospitalized for intense treatment or for his or her own safety.
Antidepressant medicines are effective in:
increasing the person's ability to function in daily life
lowering the risk of suicide
making the person feel better
The following types of medicines are used to treat depression:
monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs), such as phenelzine sulfate and tranylcypromine sulfate
other antidepressants, such as nefazodone and venlafaxine
selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), including paroxetine HCl and fluoxetine HCl
tetracyclic antidepressants, such as maprotiline HCl and mirtazapine
tricyclic antidepressants (TCAs), including amitripyline HCl and desipramine HCl
Psychotherapy can help people:
cope better with having depression
feel less alone
improve relations with family, friends, and coworkers
learn about depression and how it affects them
learn to recognize and avoid situations that can bring on a depressive episode
learn to view the world and others more positively and more realistically
positively address problems that they may be facing
stop episodes of depression early by recognizing warning signs and symptoms
What are the side effects of the treatments?
Antidepressants may cause mild and usually temporary side effects in some people. The most common side effects are:
What happens after treatment for the condition?
An individual can help prevent relapses by living a healthy lifestyle. Some important parts of the healthy lifestyle include:
avoiding alcohol, illegal drugs, and smoking
doing regular exercise
eating a balanced diet, following the food guide pyramid
finding a support system for dealing with depression
finding ways to manage stress
getting enough rest
How is the condition monitored?
Once a person has an episode of depression, he or she is at higher risk for further episodes. Any new or worsening symptoms should be reported to the healthcare provider. The provider may recommend regular visits to monitor symptoms. The provider may also order blood tests to monitor the levels of medicines.