Is depression a normal part of aging?

Depression is a diagnosable and treatable medical condition, not a natural component of the aging process. Depression is a severe mood disorder. It can have an impact on how you feel, act, and think. Several clinical symptoms and signs characterized depression. The frequency, severity, and duration of clinical symptoms may vary among the older adults. These symptoms affect both physical and mental function. The prevalence of depression among the elderly ranges from 12% to 17%. (Manber et al., 2016). There is evidence that the incidence of depressive symptoms rises with age, especially in women, and it appears to be more prevalent in nursing facilities, where it can approach 35%. (Papadimitriou et al., 2013). Many studies have revealed that the prevalence of depression in the elderly ranges from 13 to 40% for people who attend hospital outpatient departments and live at home, 10% to 45 percent for those hospitalized in medical units, and 30% to 44% for those who get healthcare at closed structure care (Alefantinou et al., 2016). Depressive symptoms are more frequent in women and appear at a younger age at double the incidence as in males.

What are some other ethical considerations when treating the older population?

The primary therapeutic approaches for depression include biological, psychological, and psychotherapy approaches. Depression can interfere with an older adult’s capacity to operate independently and lead to poor health outcomes. Depression can create pain and upheaval in the family. Depression symptoms might linger for years if not treated. Most older individuals can benefit from several effective therapies that help alleviate their depressive symptoms. Increasing the accessibility of these therapies is a critical step toward improving the quality of care for older individuals. One of the essential aspects of providing good care is the relationship you develop with an older senior. Building a therapeutic relationship entails respecting the older adult, demonstrating your competence in aging and depression concerns, and speaking empathetically with the older adult. Cultural and generational differences, as well as physical changes associated with aging, may have an impact on how you engage with older individuals. Taking an interest in how older individuals see the nature of their issues and the coping strategies they use might improve your connection with them. A person-centered approach to care should emphasize the goals established by the older adult (Pompili et al., 2019). Treatment non-adherence is another ethical issue when treating the elderly population (Julius et al., 2019). Treatment non-adherence can manifest itself in various ways, including dropping out of therapy before the goals have been met, a lack of consistency in attending scheduled therapy meetings, and non-adherence in obtaining prescriptions, taking prescribed medication, or following medical instructions. Noncompliance with treatment has significant personal and societal consequences. Non-adherence has apparent negative effects on the depressed person’s quality of life, everyday functioning, and capacity to self-care on a personal level (Schlenk et al., 2014). Noncompliance can also contribute to a decline in one’s mental health and relapses into depression (Schlenk et al., 2014). At the societal level, non-adherence to treatment relates to increased expenditures, mainly owing to indirect expenses such as lost output due to absenteeism and early retirement (Schlenk et al., 2014).


Alefantinou, A., Vlasiadis, K., PhilalithiS, A. (2016). The prevalence of depression in elderly members of the Open Care Centre for the Elderly in a mountain village of Crete. Archives of Hellenic Medicine, 33(3):368–374.

Manber, R., Edinger, J.D., Gress, J.L., San Pedro-Salcedo, M.G., Kuo, T.F., & Kalista T. (2016). Cognitive behavioral therapy for insomnia enhances depression outcome in patients with comorbid major depressive disorder and insomnia. Sleep, 73:519–69.

Schlenk, E.A., Dunbar-Jacob, J., & Engberg, S. (2014). Medication non-adherence among older adults: A review of strategies and interventions for improvement. Journal of Gerontological Nursing, 67-79.

Julius, R.J., Novitsky, M.A., & Dubin, W.R. (2019). Medication adherence: A review of the literature and implications for clinical practice. Journal of Psychiatric Practice, 78: 64-78.

Papadimitriou, G.N., Liappas Ι.Α., Lykouras, E. (2013). Contemporary Psychiatry. BETA Publications.

Pompili, M., Serafini, G., Del Casale, A., Rigucci, S., Innamorati, M., Girardi, P., Tatarelli, R., Lester, D. (2019). Improving adherence in mood disorders: The struggle against relapse, recurrence, and suicide risk. Expert review of neurotherapeutics, 7: 923-1359.

Journal of Psychiatric Practice, 78: 64-78.

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