Older American population constitute 13 percent of the population but account for nearly 20 percent of all suicides. Researchers say depression is a major risk factor for suicide in the elderly. New research shows intervention programs may help reduce suicidal thoughts in depressed elderly patients.
Researchers from Cornell University and the University of Pittsburgh studied nearly 600 elderly patients with depression. Some patients were assigned "care managers," which included social workers, nurses or psychologists. The care managers were randomly assigned to 10 different primary care practices. Patients who saw the care managers received structured treatment for their depression. The care managers offered patients antidepressants, interpersonal psychotherapy, or a combination of medication and psychotherapy.
Researchers say patients who received treatment from the caregivers were more likely to resolve their suicidal thoughts. At eight months, about 70 percent of patients who received intervention were free of suicidal thoughts, compared to only about 45 percent of patients who received standard care. Researchers say patients who received the intervention also had less symptoms of depression and responded better to treatment.
Researchers conclude saying that structured interventions can improve the quality of depression care in elderly patients.