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Medical News & Perspectives
October 6, 1999

Recognizing and Treating Depression in the Elderly

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JAMA. 1999;282(13):1215. doi:10.1001/jama.282.13.1215-JMN1006-2-1

Chicago—In the geriatric population, depression is often not recognized or treated. Because primary care physicians rather than mental health care professionals commonly see elderly patients, they need to improve their proficiency in diagnosing and treating late-life depression, say experts in the field.

Depression can be overlooked for many reasons, said Susan Ksiazek, BS Pharm, of Erie County Medical Center, Buffalo, NY, at the Home, Hospice, and Long-Term Care ‘99 meeting held here this summer. She pointed out that elderly patients often do not exhibit classic symptoms of depression, or they may have comorbidities, such as dementia or Parkinson disease, that mask symptoms. Patients with stoic attitudes may be reluctant to discuss psychological complaints, and in some cases bereavement, which becomes more common as people grow older and suffer more losses of friends, family, and independence, may be difficult to distinguish from depression.

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