Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Vigilance Essential in Primary Care

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Vigilance Essential in Primary Care

Article excerpt

Widowhood, medical illness, and lack of a meaningful role in society are key factors that contribute to suicide risk among the elderly.

The elderly are more biologically fragile and thus might be more likely to attempt suicide than younger people. Finally, the elderly tend to be more "invisible," in that they are surrounded by fewer people who might see the warning signs.

Putting standardized depression screening procedures in place, as did the PROSPECT project, increases the chances that those patients at highest risk will get help. This kind of screening also lessens this element of invisibility. But primary care providers must be vigilant when it comes to diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up.

The "Surgeon General's Report on Mental Health" published in 1999 clearly pointed out that mental health disorders are ubiquitous in general medical practice. But the report, by former Surgeon General David Satcher, M.D., said primary care physicians have not adequately prepared themselves to address this reality in practice. …

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