Treatments for depression in older people do not succeed, and in fact leave them struggling with shortened life expectations, an Australian study has revealed.
The study, based in Perth, examined the effectiveness of anti- depressant drugs or psychotherapy used by depressed men aged over 68.
And much to the researchers' surprise, it was shown to work in less than half of the cases.
"This is a big issue," said Professor Osvaldo Almeida, research director of the Western Australian Center for Health and Ageing at The University of Western Australia.
"More than half of older men with depression who use antidepressants or psychotherapy fail to respond fully to the treatment.
"We need to do something urgently to improve the efficacy of our treatments for depression," he added.
The researchers assessed the health and lifestyle of almost 5,300 men aged 68 to 88 years who had been living in Perth for more than a decade.
Almost 300 of the men were receiving treatments for depression.
"We found that older men who were using antidepressants but remained depressed had a substantially higher mortality risk," said Almeida.
"The increased mortality risk associated with antidepressant use is not due to the medication itself ... it is the depression that is contributing to shorten people's lives," he added.