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Monday, 28 June 2010

Most still depressed despite treatment

An Australian study has shown how anti-depressant treatments often do not work fully, leaving sufferers to battle a condition known to "shorten people's lives".

The Perth-based study assessed the effectiveness of anti-depressant drugs or psychotherapy used by depressed men aged over 68 and, alarmingly, 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 Centre 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."

Professor Almeida and his team assessed the health and lifestyle of almost 5300 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.

Where the men were found to not respond fully to their treatment, Prof Almeida said their overall risk of death during the 10-year study window increased.

Where they were found to respond well to their treatment, with an significant easing or resolution of their depressive symptoms, these men had the same life expectancy as a person without depression.

"We found that older men who were using antidepressants but remained depressed had a substantially higher mortality risk," Prof Almeida said.

"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."

Prof Almeida said research was under way in a bid to improve conventional treatments for depression, the disabling condition that affects one in ten people over the age of 60.

Results of the study were published recently in the medical journal PLoS-One.

Link to Article

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