For Elderly, Relief for Emotional Ills Can Be Elusive
New York Times (03/21/01) Vol. 105, No. 11 p.6; Morris, Lois B.

Mental health professionals are frustrated with the high number of elderly people who shrug mental illness off as symptoms of aging and do not seek professional help. Meanwhile, knowledge about the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders among this population is growing. Only half of older people who report their symptoms get treatment, and only 3 percent are treated by a mental health professional. Heart disease, the most common cause of death among this age group, is linked to mental symptoms in several ways. Depression can be a side effect of many medications. However, this dynamic is expected to change in the near future as baby boomers reach retirement age. This group entered psychotherapy in record numbers and has suffered from depression and from drug and alcohol abuse at historically high rates, so a psychiatric diagnosis is not likely to be stigmatizing for them.


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