Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Depression Health Center

Font Size

Depression a Danger for Older Adults

Treatment Can Improve Life Even for Ailing Elders
WebMD Health News

Dec. 2, 2004 -- People are never too old -- or too ill -- to benefit from depression treatment. It's one of the most effective steps senior citizens can take to better their lives, regardless of their health.

That's what researchers found after studying 1,800 older adults with depression. Participants were at least 60 years old and members of eight different U.S. health care organizations.

Depression wasn't their only health problem. Participants had about four chronic medical illnesses, on average. Ailments included heart disease, chronic pain, cancer, diabetes, and high blood pressure.

All of the conditions were serious, but depression was particularly devastating. The finding was based on measurements of physical and mental health, quality of life, and disability.

Depression severity was tied to all four general health indicators. "As depression severity increased, quality of life and physical and mental functioning declined, while disability increased," say the researchers. They included Polly Hitchcock Noël, PhD, of South Texas Veterans Health Care System, and colleagues from California, Washington state, and North Carolina.

The study has a practical lesson: Treat depression and life can get better, regardless of age or health status. "Depression may well be one of our most treatable chronic illnesses among elders," say the researchers.

But depression doesn't always get the attention it deserves. It may go unrecognized or get sidelined by other health problems.

"When faced with competing demands for treating multiple chronic illnesses, physicians may give depression less priority for treatment compared with such illnesses as diabetes or arthritis," say the researchers.

That needs to change, say Noël and colleagues. "Improved recognition and treatment of depression has the potential to improve patients' lives in spite of other medical [conditions]," they conclude.

The study appears in the November/December issue of the Annals of Family Medicine.

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed and feeling blue.
jk rowling
Famous people who've struggled with persistent sadness.
depressed man sitting on hallway floor
Learn the truth about this serious illness.
Sad woman looking out of the window
Tips to stay the treatment course.
unhappy teen boy
Health Check
jk rowling
Pills with smiley faces
Teen girl huddled outside house
Depressed man sitting in hospital hallway
antidepressants slideshow
pill bottle
Winding path