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Understanding Depression in the Elderly

Original Broadcast Date: October 19, 2005
(2 hours)

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Program Overview

Depression is a biological brain disorder that occurs in 7-12% of all individuals over the age of 65. Recognition of depression in the elderly patient can be difficult. Specific symptoms, to include sleep disturbance, loss of appetite, lack of energy and loss of concentration, are usually present in addition to lowered mood. Any patient with unexplained weight loss should also be evaluated for depression. Many depressed elderly patients have increased physical complaints, such as persistent unexplained abdominal problems, severe arthritis, etc.,  and depression should be considered in any elderly patient who "constantly whines."

Treatment is effective in 70-90% of elderly depressed patients with appropriate management. Untreated depression leads to higher medical costs and higher risk of death or disability from cardiac or cerebrovascular disease.


Richard E. Powers, MD
Medical Director
Alabama Department of Mental Health/Mental Retardation
Director, Bureau of Geriatric Psychiatry
Alabama Department of Mental Health/Mental Retardation
Associate Professor of Pathology
Division of Neuropathology
School of Medicine
University of Alabama at Birmingham

Contact Hours

None for this program.

Contact for Technical Assistance

(334) 206-5618 or email ALPHTN

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