Older Adults and Mental Health
Depression is not a normal part of aging. Yet depression is a widely underrecognized and undertreated medical illness.
Depression often co-occurs with other serious illnesses, such as heart disease, stroke, diabetes, cancer, and Parkinson's disease. Because many older adults face these illnesses as well as various social and economic difficulties, health care professionals may mistakenly conclude that depression is a normal consequence of these problems — an attitude often shared by patients themselves.
These factors together contribute to the underdiagnosis and undertreatment of depressive disorders in older people. Depression can and should be treated when it co-occurs with other illnesses, for untreated depression can delay recovery from or worsen the outcome of these other illnesses.
Visit the following NIMH pages for more information on depression:
Alzheimer’s Disease and Antipsychotic Medications
Commonly prescribed antipsychotic medications used to treat Alzheimer's patients with delusions, aggression, hallucinations, and other similar symptoms can benefit some patients, but they appear to be no more effective than a placebo when adverse side effects are considered.
Visit the following NIMH pages for more information on Alzheimer's Disease and Antipsychotic Medications:
- Antipsychotic Medications Used to Treat Alzheimer’s Patients Found Lacking (Press Release)
- Questions and Answers About the NIMH Clinical Antipsychotic Trials of Intervention Effectiveness (CATIE) Alzheimer’s Disease Study – Phase I Results
- NIMH Perspective on Treating Alzheimer's Patients with Antipsychotic Medications
- Information about medications
- Senior's Health Information and Organizations from NLM's MedlinePlus (en Español)
- NIH Senior Health, with resources from the NIH for people over 60 to find answers to their medical questions.
- Watch this video on depression and older adults featuring NIMH's Dr. George Niederehe
- Some mental illnesses also carry an increased risk for suicide.