What are the treatments for depression in older adults?

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Anyone experiencing symptoms of depression should be evaluated by a doctor. Many elderly people with depression often feel helpless, but effective treatments are available. Treating depression is very similar to treating other chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure and diabetes, and treatment may significantly improve quality of life.

Antidepressant medications or psychotherapy, or a combination of the two, can be effective treatments for late-life depression.

Medications: Antidepressant medications affect brain chemicals called neurotransmitters. For example, medications called SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) affect the neurotransmitter serotonin. Different medications may affect different neurotransmitters.

Some older adults may find that newer antidepressant medications, including SSRIs, have fewer side effects than older medications, which include tricyclic antidepressants and monoamine oxidase inhibitors (MAOIs). However, others may find that these older medications work well for them.

It's important to be aware that there are several medications for depression, that different medications work for different people, and that it takes four to eight weeks for the medications to work. If one medication doesn&apops;t help, research shows that a different antidepressant might.

Psychotherapy: In psychotherapy, people interact with a specially trained health professional to deal with depression, thoughts of suicide, and other problems. Research shows that certain types of psychotherapy are effective treatments for late-life depression.

For many older adults, especially those who are in good physical health, combining psychotherapy with antidepressant medication appears to provide the most benefit. A study showed that about 80 percent of older adults with depression recovered with this kind of combined treatment and had lower recurrence rates than with psychotherapy or medication alone.

This answer is based on source information from National Institute of Mental Health.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.