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March 2017
Psychology
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DEPRESSION IN THE ELDERLY

    DEPRESSION IN THE ELDERLY

There are many reasons why the elderly may get depressed; for instance, losing the dominant role in the family, living alone, being disabled and having nothing to do. However, getting depressed in old age makes the elderly 3-4 times more likely to suffer a heart attack and research has shown that one in four old people is depressed. Furthermore, more elderly men are depressed than women. 

Research has produced three hypotheses regarding why depression in the elderly may increase the chance of suffering a heart attack.

  • The first is that depressed pensioners do not have a healthy lifestyle, for example, they may be overweight or smoke. In addition, elderly depressed patients often do not respect what doctors say concerning depression and they usually ignore it altogether when it involves taking medication.
  • The second hypothesis is that there is accentuated aggregation of platelets in elderly, depressed people thus the probability of developing thrombosis is higher.
  • The last hypothesis is that being depressed makes the heart rate irregular, increasing the likelihood of heart failure.


It seems that the pharmacological treatment of depression in the elderly may also be responsible for the increased cardiovascular risk. In particular, tricyclic antidepressants can increase the heart rate, postural hypotension and cause changes to conduction, as well as reduce variability of the heart rate. In light of new developments made in therapy, it can be said that better controls regarding drugs for depression are absolutely necessary, since mortality and cardiovascular morbidity associated with depression are serious public health problems.

DEPRESSION IN THE ELDERLY

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