Elderly Depression Studies
Individuals who are age 70 or older and experiencing depression for the first time can derive long term benefits from continuing to take medicine after they feel better, according to a two-year study by the National Institute of Mental health (NIMH). The study states that continuing with the medicines gave them a 60% chance to not repeat the depression episode.
The benefit of continuing, physicians agree starts from the point that the elderly patient is symptom free and extends to 6 or 12 months from that point with the benefits being that the patient will stay in remission.
The same benefit according to psychiatrists exists for those elderly patients who have had 2 to 3 depression episodes as long as the medicine that worked for them is the same one that they continue to take on a regular basis for a period of 2 years.
These same psychiatrists also suggest that the individuals who had only experienced one episode of depression would also fare better if they also extended the maintenance medication treatment out for 2 years too.
The study addresses the risks and benefits of the long-term medication therapy as well as testing to see if the medication that made them symptom and depression free would also allow them to remain in remission from the disorder if the medicine was continued. the study also wanted to discover if other health-related problems had any impact at all on the rates of recurrence if any.
Patients involved in the study were aged 70 or older who had been diagnosed and treated for depression and had been able to go into remission using both paroxetime which is a serotonin reuptake inhibitor and interpersonal psychotherapy. These patients were given maintenance treatment of different treatment regimens and tested to see if they remained symptom free for at least 2 years.
As part of the study the participants were divided into 4 groups. One group were given paroxetine only, another group were given a placebo (harmless inactive substance in place of Paroxetine and not told it was a placebo), a third group were given both Paroxetine and monthly interpersonal psychotherapy with the last group being given both the placebo and the interpersonal psychotherapy
Results of the Study:
There were significant differences in the results obtained from the study from the four groups.
63% of the participants who were in the group that received paroxetine alone remained in remission.
42% of the participants in the group receiving the placebo alone remained in remission.
65% of the participants who were in the group that received both paroxetine and the interpersonal therapy remained in remission.
32% of the participants in the group receiving the placebo and the interpersonal therapy remained in remission.
The study seems to conclude based on the data collected that intepersonal therapy alone does not have as much effect on the person 70 years of age or older as receiving paroxetine in combination with therapy.
The study also revealed that their hypothesis which was a prediction that interpersonal therapy would significantly reduce rates of recurrence, interpersonal therapy did not show to be as effective in individuals in the study (70 and older).
It was surmised that perhaps this particular group of individuals (70 and older) would respond better to a more structured type of psychotherapy that would encompass cognitive impairment, problem solving and would also involve the caregivers who could add to the support during therapy.
The study also revealed that individuals who also had multiple chronic medical issues did not do as well as those in the study who did not have multiple chronic medical issues.
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