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Depression 'gets worse with old age'

Depression 'gets worse with old age'
16th November 2015

People may be more likely to become depressed once they are over 65-years-old, according to new research.

A study carried out at the University of Bradford has found that as individuals reach old age, they tend to become much sadder about their lives, which can manifest itself as depression.

For instance, the levels of pain they experience often increase due to the onset of age-related conditions such as rheumatoid arthritis and other chronic illnesses, while their mental health can also deteriorate with the development of degenerative diseases including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's.

The research involved the monitoring of more than 2,000 elderly Australian participants over the course of 15 years, which led to the discovery that their moods tended to decline as they advanced in age.

This counteracted previous studies that have shown while depression can kick in over the age of 65, it usually tended to disappear by the age of 85.

However, this investigation found that depression in fact got worse as people aged, with women showing more signs of sadness than men at the age of 65. But by the time people reached the age of 80, both men and women showed significant signs of depression.

The team behind the research believe the findings will be useful to doctors, as they can use this information to keep a close eye on the moods of their older patients who come to them with other health complaints.

For instance, half of the participants had been diagnosed with arthritis, which was one of the factors that appeared to influence their mental wellbeing as they aged, possibly due to the associated pain levels.

Lead author of the study Dr Helena Chui, a psychology lecturer at the university, commented: "These findings are very significant and have implications for how we deal with old age. It's the first study to tell us depressive symptoms continue to increase throughout old age.

"It seems that we need to look carefully at the provision of adequate services to match these needs, particularly in the area of mental health support and pain management."

Read about support and personalised care at Barchester care homes for anyone with mental health concerns.