Treatment for Late-Life Depression

New research suggests that a collaborative intervention program called Improving Mood-Promoting Access to Collaborative Treatment (IMPACT) is more beneficial for the treatment of depression in seniors than usual depression care.

According to researchers, “Major depression and dysthymic disorder [chronic mild depression] affect between 5 percent and 10 percent of older adults.” Depression suffered by seniors, called late-life depression, is usually chronic, linked to functional damage, and responsible for a reduced quality of life. Seniors who suffer from late-life depression are also at a higher risk for medical illnesses and suicide. When seniors try to seek help for their depression, they often go to general medical services, which do not generally help seniors stick to a treatment or help them to continue further on with treatments.

In the study, researchers gathered 1,801 adults age 60 or older, who suffered from major depression, a dysthymic disorder, or both. Of the participants, 906 received treatment through IMPACT and 895 received help through usual medical services. A depression care manager was available to help the IMPACT group. The caregiver had the support of a psychiatrist and primary care physicians who offered education, anti-depressant medication, or psychotherapy to the seniors if needed. The other group was encouraged to used the available resources provided by the usual medical care service.

By one year, 45 percent of the IMPACT participants had a 50 percent decrease in their depression. Only 19 percent of the other group had a decrease in their depression. The IMPACT patients also reported more contentment with their treatment, reduction of functional loss and an improved quality of life. Researchers conclude, “The IMPACT model, a collaborative, stepped care management intervention for late-life depression, appears to be feasible and significantly more effective than usual care in a wide range of primary care practices.”

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