Many elderly people are suffering undiagnosed depression, a study by the University of Liverpool has revealed.
The study found that of 300 elderly people who were discharged from hospital, 17 per cent were suffering from previously undiagnosed depression. Of these sufferers, seven per cent died within two years of leaving hospital.
The findings also suggest that depression can result in the onset of other conditions, with 41 per cent of participants who suffer from depression later readmitted to hospital with other illnesses.
This has been put down to a lack of awareness among the elderly about depression.
Professor Ken Wilson from the University of Liverpool said: "Depression is still a relatively new disease in terms of treatments and services available…and many older people are still unaware of the symptoms.
"Often they will visit their doctor presuming they have a physical illness when they are actually showing signs of depression and will not receive appropriate treatment as a result".
It is hoped that the findings will impact on health policy, and bring about a system by which elderly people at high risk of depression can be identified and appropriate treatment provided.