While depression and suicides among young people are on the increase, a study by the University of Leicester has found that the elderly seem to be coping better with the rigours of 21st century living.
In this cyber age of rapid technological change, a two year study of 65-74 year olds in a Leicestershire town found them to be marginally less depressed than average, and memory loss was less common than expected.
The findings contrast sharply with figures for depression in young people - suicide is responsible for almost one-fifth of deaths in young people, and depression accounts for approximately three-quarters of all suicides. It is estimated that two young people take their lives needlessly each day as a result of depression.
April 10 sees the start of National Depression Week which is part of a National Depression Campaign 2000 which aims to raise awareness about the condition.
At the University of Leicester, the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health along with Latham House Medical Practice in Melton Mowbray, have been studying depression and dementia among 65 -74 year old adults. The project was funded by the Regional Office of the National Health Service Executive for Trent.
Researcher Tony Arthur said: "This study was part of an ageing programme of research looking at ways to promote and understand healthy ageing.
"There is certainly a difference between depression affecting the elderly and that in the young. Mild depression is more common in the elderly, and it is present in a more severe form among the young. Another factor in understanding depression in older people is that it is compounded with physical health problems.
"Treatment with antidepressant tablets does work but patients often do not seem to want it, probably because many worry that the tablets are addictive.
"This is not true for the treatments used today. Many people stop treatment after a month or two just as they are getting better. However, depression takes time to improve and treatment takes at least two to four weeks to work, with doctors currently recommending that anyone with severe depression should continue treatment for at least 6 months."
If you require any further information, please contact either Tony Arthur or Sarah Gilbert on (01664) 567157.
For more information on the National Depression Campaign 2000 and National Depression Week, contact Antony Tiernan on 020 7207 3293.
The University of Leicester has produced a guide for those who come into contact with students experiencing mental health problems. For more information on the publication, Helping Students in Difficulty, contact Dr Annie Grant on 0116 252 5230.
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