More than two million people over the age of 65 have symptoms of depression, a charity has said.
However, the vast majority are denied any help through the NHS, according to a new report released by Age Concern.
It found eight out of ten older people who have clinical depression do not receive any treatment - with the charity singling out ageist rules and attitudes in the health service for blame.
Director General of Age Concern Gordon Lishman said: "It is scandalous that hundreds of thousands of older people may be denied treatment because depression is wrongly seen as a natural part of getting older."
He added that "there should be no excuse" for a lack of action to address the issue.
Meanwhile, Age Concern recently issued a joint statement with Help the Aged to welcome government plans to make age discrimination illegal.
Gordon Lishman said it is important that ageism should be viewed just as seriously as any other form of discrimination in society.
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