Older Men, Minorities Report Lower Rates of Treatment for Depression

Article excerpt

LOS ANGELES

Older men, African Americans and Latinos with clinical depression reported significantly lower rates of treatment than other participants surveyed in a national study led by UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute researchers.

Overall, less than one in three depressed older adults studied had received potentially effective treatment for depression in the last three months. The survey is part of the largest study of depression treatment in older adults published to date.

Writing in the April edition of the peer-reviewed Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the researchers also found that while a majority of study participants indicated a preference for depression counseling to antidepressant medication, antidepressants were more commonly used in the clinics studied.

"Our findings suggest that we are still not meeting the medical needs of millions of depressed older adults," says Dr. Jurgen Unutzer, an associate professor of psychiatry at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA who directed the study-coordinating center at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. "The challenge in treating late-life depression clearly goes beyond writing an initial antidepressant prescription. Considerable effort is needed to monitor outcomes and match treatments to the clinical needs and preferences of individual patients overtime."

A total of 1,801 depressed adults aged 60 and above were surveyed at 18 primary-care clinics in California, Indiana, North Carolina, Texas and Washington. Researchers gathered an array of sociodemographic information, assessed the severity of depression symptoms, and gathered data on previous depression treatments and chronic medical problems. …