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Last Updated: Oct 11, 2012 - 10:22:56 PM
Age Concern, UK
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Depression is wrongly seen as natural part of getting older

Aug 12, 2008 - 10:02:41 AM , Reviewed by: Dr. Himanshu Tyagi
"It is scandalous that hundreds of thousands of older people may be denied treatment because depression is wrongly seen as a natural part of getting older."

Key Points of this article
Out of 1 million people over 65 who have clinical depression, only around 150,000 receive treatment
Age Concern
Age Concern is the largest organisation in the UK working for older people. Everyday we are in touch with thousands of older people, enabling them to make more of life. We work in the community to support older people through a range of initiatives. These include information and advice, befriending, day centres, lunch clubs, transport services, home visits, and advocacy services along with digital inclusion. More than 85,000 older people received computer training at an Age Concern in 2006.
More than two million older people over the age of 65 in England have symptoms of depression.
Depression is wrongly seen as natural part of getting older
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The vast majority of older people over the age of 65 in England have symptoms of depression are denied any help, according to a new report published today by Age Concern.

The charity found that shocking ageist attitudes held by many people, including GPs, and ageist rules in the NHS mean that an astounding eight out of ten older people with clinical depression don’t get any treatment. Most mental health services for depression exclude people aged 65 and older, despite the risk of depression increasing with age in later life.

Age Concern’s new campaign, ‘Down, but not out’, aims to improve the quality of life for older people with depression. Depression is the most common mental health problem in later life, affecting one in four older people yet it is often ignored. If depression is not identified and treated, it can lead to a life of misery. It can also cause other illnesses and, in extreme cases, can lead to suicide.

The charity will be helping older people to recognise the symptoms of depression and encouraging them to seek help. It will also be working with GPs to improve the diagnosis of older people with depression and ensure that effective treatments are available to all, regardless of age.

Poor health and problems, such as money worries, losing a loved one and stressful events like moving into a care home can trigger depression. Recently bereaved older people are three times more likely than married older people to show signs of depression.

Gordon Lishman, Director General of Age Concern, said:
“Negative attitudes about mental health problems make it very difficult for older people to talk about their feelings or to ask for help. It is scandalous that hundreds of thousands of older people may be denied treatment because depression is wrongly seen as a natural part of getting older.

“Older people deserve better treatment - there should be no excuse for inaction. Without a major change in policy and practice, there will be 3.5 million older people in UK with symptoms of depression by 2021.

“The Government and the NHS need to take action to stamp out ageist attitudes and practice, once and for all. The neglect of older people’s mental health ruins lives and must no longer be ignored.”

Awareness of depression is low among older people themselves and their relatives and is worse in some communities because of negative cultural perceptions of mental health problems. Beliefs about the origin of the illness and the high value placed on family reputation results in many black and minority ethnic (BME) elders, and their families, keeping the depression a secret.

Publication: Age Concern’s campaign report, ‘Undiagnosed, Untreated and at risk’ 
On the web: Website for Age Concern’s new campaign ‘Down, but not out’ 

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 About Dr. Himanshu Tyagi
This news story has been reviewed by Dr. Himanshu Tyagi before its publication on RxPG News website. Dr. Himanshu Tyagi, MBBS MRCPsych is the founder editor and manager for RxPG News. In this position he is responsible for content development and overall website and editorial management functions. His areas of special interest are psychological therapies and evidence based journalism. He can be reached for corrections and feedback at [email protected]
RxPG News is committed to promotion and implementation of Evidence Based Medical Journalism in all channels of mass media including internet.
 Additional information about the news article
Older people tend to think more about physical symptoms than about feeling depressed. The reason for this may be that many older people were brought up not to bother the doctor unless they had a physical complaint. Sometimes the first sign of depression can be a constant worry about having a physical illness, even when your doctor can't find anything wrong with you. If he or she tells you that you are actually depressed, it may feel as though you are being fobbed off. This isn't the case. Depression is as deserving of help as any other physical illness. You may feel tempted to insist on more tests than the doctor thinks you need, but this may just delay starting the treatment that will really help you. Source: Royal College of Psychiatrists' Patient Information Leaflet on Depression in Older Adults, UK
For any corrections of factual information, to contact the editors or to send any medical news or health news press releases, use feedback form

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