DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows
Take One Step: A PBS Health Campaign
DEPRESSION: Out of the Shadows + TAKE ONE STEP: Caring for Depression, with Jane Pauley  

Ask an Expert: Depression in Elders
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Read Dr. William McDonald's bio >

Learn more about depression in elders:

Depression in Older Adults: English version (PDF, 736k) Spanish version (PDF, 748k)
American Association for Geriatric Psychiatry:


Why is electroconvulsive therapy often used with the elderly?

DR. WILLIAM MCDONALD: And that may be why something like ECT works so well in a group of people who don't respond to medication, because ECT is so different from the medications. It's a completely-- a different approach to treating the depressed patient. And it may be that it picks up on people who wouldn't be medication responsive.

Well, it's not really popular for anybody. But ECT may be more commonly used in older people because older people are more likely to be treatment-resistant. And oftentimes the consequences of treatment-resistant depression in older people is life-threatening. Um, if you're 30, maybe you can not take your, uh, anti-hypertensive drug for, you know, a few weeks. If you're 80 and you do it, you could die from that. You-- If you're 80 and you lose 20, 30 pounds, you could be emaciated. At 20 or 30, you may be able to-- to live through that.

More Topics

Causes of Depression | Suicide | Depression in Youth | Depression in the World | Depression Treatment

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