By Continuing Medication, Older Adults Reduce Chances of Further Depressive Episodes
When older adults continue taking their antidepressant medication, they lower their chances of having future episodes of depression.
Akinso: When older adults continue taking their antidepressant medication, they lower their chances of having future episodes of depression according to a study funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. In the study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, people age 70 and older initially recovering from their first episode of depression were 60 percent less likely to experience a new episode of depression over a two-year period than those who stopped taking the medication. Dr. Charles Reynolds, a NIMH grantee from the University of Pittsburgh, says this study demonstrates the benefits of keeping older patients on an antidepressant after they are symptom-free.
Reynolds: Major depression is an important public health concern for older Americans. It's estimated that some 6 to 10 percent of older Americans seeing the primary care clinics have major depression at any one point and time. So the study shows that it's possible using currently available treatments, not only to get people well but to keep them well. This is a great finding for older Americans and their families.
Akinso: The patients were randomly assigned to one of four maintenance groups: some were given the antidepressive medication paroxetine; some a placebo; others were treated with paroxetine and monthly interpersonal psychotherapy known as "IPT"; and others were treated with a combination of placebo and IPT. Dr. Reynolds believes that maintenance antidepressant medication may be effective in primary care settings where patients have multiple chronic diseases.
Reynolds: The news is good. Although depression in old age is common, treatment works. Get treatment and stay in treatment!
Akinso: For more information on depression and how to treat it in older adults, visit www.nimh.nih.gov. This is Wally Akinso at the National Institutes of Health Bethesda, Maryland.
About This Audio Report
Reporter: Wally Akinso
Sound Bite: Dr. Charles Reynolds