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Abstract

Depression is less prevalent among older adults than among younger adults, but it can have serious consequences. More than half of cases represent a first onset in later life. Although suicide rates in the elderly are declining, they are still higher than in younger adults and are more closely associated with depression. Depressed older adults are less likely to endorse affective symptoms and more likely to display cognitive changes, somatic symptoms, and loss of interest than are depressed younger adults. Risk factors leading to the development of late-life depression likely comprise complex interactions among genetic vulnerabilities, cognitive diathesis, age-associated neurobiological changes, and stressful events. Insomnia is an often overlooked risk factor for late-life depression. We suggest that a common pathway to depression in older adults, regardless of which predisposing risks are most prominent, may be curtailment of daily activities. Accompanying self-critical thinking may exacerbate and maintain a depressed state. Offsetting the increasing prevalence of certain risk factors in late life are age-related increases in psychological resilience. Other protective factors include higher education and socioeconomic status, engagement in valued activities, and religious or spiritual involvement. Treatments including behavioral therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, cognitive bibliotherapy, problem-solving therapy, brief psychodynamic therapy, and life review/reminiscence therapy are effective but are too infrequently used with older adults. Preventive interventions including education for individuals with chronic illness, behavioral activation, cognitive restructuring, problem-solving skills training, group support, and life review have also received support.

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/content/journals/10.1146/annurev.clinpsy.032408.153621
2009-04-27
2024-04-13
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  • Article Type: Review Article
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