Diagnosis and Treatment of Depression in the Elderly Essay

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Diagnosis and Treatment of Depression in the Elderly

Mental disorders are becoming more prevalent in today's society as people add stress and pressure to their daily lives. The elderly population is not eliminated as a candidate for a disorder just because they may be retired. In fact, mental disorders affect 1 in 5 elderly people. One would think that with disorders being rather prevalent in this age group that there would be an abundance of treatment programs, but this is not the case. Because the diagnosis of an individual's mental state is subjective in nature, many troubled people go untreated regularly (summer 1998). Depression in the elderly population is a common occurrence, yet the diagnosis and treatment seem to slip
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Finally, older people tend to have more anxiety present in their depression than younger patients do (winter 1996). In the natural order of things, bodies tend to wear down somewhat and people become higher risk candidates for various health problems. It is the increase in health problems that allows for some symptoms of depression to be overlooked. Doctors begin to attribute all problems and ailments to the primary problem, neglecting the possibility of depression. The prevalence of low blood pressure is one of those items that do increase as an individual ages. The correlation of depression with low blood pressure also increases as time passes, particularly among men. A study by Barrett-Connor and Palinkas indicated "men with low blood pressure scored significantly higher on both the emotional and physical items of a depression test (February 1994)." These same individuals also scored higher on measures of pessimism, sadness, loss of appetite, weight loss, and preoccupation with health than did people with normal blood pressure. Some believe that because low blood pressure can cause fatigue, anyone with these two symptoms could possibly be diagnosed with depression. This is a snowball effect where the low blood pressure causes the fatigue, which in turn causes someone to feel useless, which further develops into other possible
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