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Depression in old age: Specific psychotherapy can help


Huge study on specific psychotherapy for age depression
Experts have pointed out in the past year that mental illnesses are far more common in old age than is often assumed. Depression is of particular importance. In a new study, the effectiveness of specific psychotherapy for age depression is to be tested.

More and more people suffer from depression
According to a report by the World Health Organization (WHO), the number of people with depression has increased significantly worldwide. In the EU too, more and more people suffer from mental illness. Depression can actually be treated well as long as it is recognized early. But what about the elderly, for whom the disease is often recognized late? In a large study, the effectiveness of specific psychotherapy for age depression is to be tested.

Sometimes life-threatening illness
Depression can manifest itself in a variety of symptoms: lack of drive, lack of motivation, sadness, little zest for life.

However, the effects are often very different. Depression, for example, often goes undetected in old age because the mental illness is reflected in physical rather than mental complaints.

This complicates the therapy. However, depression is a serious - and sometimes life-threatening and increasing - mental illness, especially in older to older years.

There are psychotherapeutic concepts that specifically address the issues of the elderly, but have so far been insufficiently tested in clinical studies.

Largest study on psychotherapy for age depression
With a total amount of over 1.9 million euros, the Federal Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF) is funding the world's largest multicenter study on psychotherapy for age depression under the coordination of Prof. Dr. Frank Jessen, Director of the Clinic for Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, University Hospital Cologne together with Prof. Martin Hautzinger, University of Tübingen.

"Since drug-based antidepressant therapies can often only be used to a limited extent due to contraindications or interactions with other medications and their effectiveness is weaker than in younger age, effective psychotherapeutic strategies for treating age depression would be of great value," said Prof. Jessen in a message.

In the study, in which a total of seven centers in Germany are involved, a total of 248 people over eight weeks each are treated with a behavioral therapy intervention specifically developed for age depression compared to an unspecific supportive therapy.

The primary goal of the study is to examine depression six months after it started. "Should the study prove the effectiveness of specific psychotherapy in old age, an immediately implementable effective treatment procedure would be available for this group of patients, which often has to be treated with complex therapy," explained the coordinator of the study, Prof. Jessen. (ad)

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Video: Mental Health Treatment for the Elderly: Challenges and Adaptations (June 2021).