A growing concern

Depression is projected to be the second biggest burden on global health in a decade’s time and this will have significant impacts on elder care.

Cover of the January 2008 issueWith depression predicted to be the second biggest contributor to the global health burden (after heart disease) by 2020, the US-based Preventing Chronic Disease journal (pictured) has issued a comprehensive literature review on the challenges posed by depression in older adults.

The paper looks at the prevalence and diagnosis of depression, the relative cost-effectiveness of different public health interventions and the broader impact of depression.

Although depression tends to be more prevalent among young adults, suicide rates are higher are higher for older adults than any other age group, indicating that “significant depressive symptoms may indicate a serious threat to the health and survival of older adults”.

Current research suggests a connection between chronic disease and depression.

Chronic diseases may increase the likelihood of depressive disorders and depressive disorders are themselves associated with the risk of chronic disease in older adults.

The paper advocates the IMPACT (Improving Mood – Promoting Access to Collaborative Training) public health program to address depression among older populations.

The program takes a collaborative-care approach to the management of depression by assigning a depression care manager to at-risk older adults.

The paper also finds that older adults living in communities are less susceptible to depression than younger community residents.

For more information on how to assist people with depression, visit Beyond Blue and the Black Dog Institute.

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