Author(s): Kamholz BA, Mellow AM
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Abstract The treatment of depression in geriatric patients is challenging on all levels. Recognition, compliance, medical comorbidity, tolerance of drug regimens, and accessibility of the patient to therapy all represent major clinical problems. Treating depression in elderly, disabled patients requires patience, keen observation skills, and much flexibility. It is critical that these patients trust their physicians and have ready access if problematic side effects develop. In general, when treating patients with a history of failure to respond, the clinician should choose a medication with a tolerable side-effect profile, and persist with it as long as steady, slow gains are being made. Dosages should be maximized to clinical tolerance prior to considering switching agents or augmentation strategies. It is probably wiser to augment than switch if a partial response has been obtained. Particularly among the medically ill elderly, any "lost ground" may be very difficult to replace. All available psychosocial resources should be assessed and brought to bear productively in the treatment context. We are quite far from a full clinical understanding of "treatment resistance" in elderly depressive patients, but the eminent treatability of depression in elderly patients encourages creative exploration of treatment regimens. Rigorous, placebo-controlled studies of representative samples of elderly patients are needed to clarify the diverse interactions among the many pharmacologic agents available to treat resistant/refractory depression in the elderly.
This article was published in Psychiatr Clin North Am
and referenced in Journal of Sleep Disorders & Therapy