New research finds that the proportion of people with ages over 65, which are on antidepressants, have more than doubled over the course of the last twenty years. The survey was led by the University of East Anglia.
In spite of the rise in antidepressant use, there was almost no change in the number of older people identified with depression. The discoveries are based on the Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies, led over two periods in time: between 1991 and 1993, and between 2008 and 2011. Researchers talked to over 15,000 people over 65 years old in England and Wales.
Lead author of the study, Professor Antony Arthur from UEA’s School of Health Sciences, explained that depression is a major cause of a poor quality lifestyle, and older people may be less likely to present symptoms of depression.
Depression Has Not Reduced
The method used in this survey was a standardized interview process, which would determine the presence or absence of symptoms of depression. Then, the patient would have been applied a diagnostic criteria to see if the participant was thought to have ‘case level’ depression. This type of depression is more severe than that showing minor mood symptoms, such as energy loss, lack of interest, or enjoyment.
The research’s lead investigator, Professor Carol Brayne, Director of the Cambridge Institute of Public Health, said that the investigation has earlier shown a sharp age-for-age drop in dementia occurrence over generations. This new study shows that depression has not reduced even in cases of drastically increased prescribing, Dr. Brayne explained.
The study was conducted by the University of East Anglia in collaboration with the University of Cambridge, the University of Nottingham, and the University of Newcastle.
Called ‘Changing prevalence and treatment of depression among the over-65s over two decades: findings from the Cognitive Function and Ageing Studies,’ the research was published in the British Journal of Psychiatry.