Older Men With Depression Have Higher Mortality Risk

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While depression appears to be more prevalent in women, an estimated 6 million men suffer from the condition in the United States, according to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH). It is a growing concern among older adults – one in 10 people over the age of 60 are affected. An Australian study recently found that depression in older men was often not adequately treated and led to a higher mortality rate.

Lead study author Professor Osvaldo Almeida of the University of Western Australia assessed the health and lifestyle of over 5,200 men over the age of 68 living in Perth over the course of ten years. Older men who were using antidepressants, but remained depressed, had a substantially higher mortality risk while those on medications that were free of depressive symptoms had a similar mortality rate as the rest of the healthy population.

"This is a big issue, not only because depression causes significant personal suffering and disability, but also because our results show that these men are also more likely to die," Professor Almeida said. "The most plausible explanation for these results is that the increased mortality risk associated with antidepressant use is not due to the medication itself, but to the persistence of depressive symptoms despite treatment. In other words, it is the depression that is contributing to shorten people's lives."

Professor Almeida said that more than half of older men with depression who use medication or psychotherapy fail to fully respond to treatment.

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Read: Wii Sports Games May Reduce Depression in Older Adults

The symptoms of depression in men are similar to those found in women, but men tend to express themselves differently. While women may feel sad and emotional, men are often irritable, aggressive, or hostile. Depression in men is also under-diagnosed because men oftentimes do not discuss their symptoms with their doctors. Men may fall back on the stereotype of being “strong” and that displays of emotion are “feminine.”

Older adults in particular are often misdiagnosed because they are reluctant to discuss feelings of hopelessness, sadness, or loss of interest in pleasurable activities. One study found that about 70% of older suicide victims had been to their primary care physicians within the month of their death, many with undetected symptoms.

Read: Red Clover May Relieve Depression in Older Women

According to the NIMH, more than 80% of people with depression, both men and women, can be treated successfully with antidepressant medication, psychotherapy, or a combination of both.

Source: PLoS-One

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Comments

Lexapro is a permanent life long cure for any depression if you can survive the treatment. I was prompted by a marriage counselor to go to my doctor and request drugs for my OCD symptoms (checking, intrusive sad thoughts, previous eating disorders as a teen and heavy drinking.) I went to my husband’s pcp who never met me before. He gave me a depression self-test and diagnosed me with depression and anxiety, and then prescribed me Lexapro and Rozerem since I had a terrible insomnia problem. He also decided it was a good idea to start kissing me and grabbing me in his office. The Lexapro did such a good job getting me up and doing things, lots of things, but unfortunately, I believe it also may have made me nervous because it raised my blood pressure from it’s usual 120/80 to 145/110. I was really up, up, up. I could drink twelve shots of straight liquor and still be walking around for hours. This was the busiest year of my life. I managed to get 2 DUI’s 4 drunk in publics and an involuntary commit for suicide, attend 2 rehab’s, a hypnotherapist, weekly ASAP programs, all while working full time an taking care of a young child. During the course of my medical treatment, I was seen by 3 psychiatrists, 4 doctors, and numerous counselors. In rehab, one woman was so intoxicated by her medications that she was seeing trolls in her room and could not walk without assistance. Most of the follow up treatment involved numerous more drugs, anti-buse, campral, and Buspar. All of which I had to stop taking due to side effects such as full body tremors and falling down. Finally, after the second DUI which I was also charged with a felony for pinching a police officers butt, I decided maybe I should stop taking the Lexapro b/c I seemed to have developed some obsession with alcohol and I could see I was also becoming delusional. So, while in jail, I requested no more medication for 1 week and was able kick Lexapro, although the depression side effects of the withdrawal lasted about three months. I met numerous other women in jail for DUI’s while on Zoloft, Lexapro and Abilify and others for shoplifting on Zanax. My depression is 100% permanently cured. I no longer ever feel sad about my life. I have never killed anyone driving drunk, I didn’t kill myself, I am no longer in jail, I didn’t get my kid taken away from me, I am not in a mental institution, and I don’t have a lethal diastolic blood pressure of 110 anymore. No matter what happens in my life now, I am always hopeful and never depressed. I know things could be much worse. I now realize that my mental problems probably were caused by my father's suicide when I was 13 from being treated for 3 years with psychotropics for depression, having full blown akathaisa and paranoia from these drugs, not a chemical imabalance.