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The Journals of Gerontology Series A: Biological Sciences and Medical Sciences 58:M249-M265 (2003)
© 2003 The Gerontological Society of America

Depression in Late Life: Review and Commentary

Dan G. Blazer

Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences and Center for the Study of Aging, Duke University Medical Center, Durham, North Carolina.

Depression is perhaps the most frequent cause of emotional suffering in later life and significantly decreases quality of life in older adults. In recent years, the literature on late-life depression has exploded. Many gaps in our understanding of the outcome of late-life depression have been filled. Intriguing findings have emerged regarding the etiology of late-onset depression. The number of studies documenting the evidence base for therapy has increased dramatically. Here, I first address case definition, and then I review the current community- and clinic-based epidemiological studies. Next I address the outcome of late-life depression, including morbidity and mortality studies. Then I present the extant evidence regarding the etiology of depression in late life from a biopsychosocial perspective. Finally, I present evidence for the current therapies prescribed for depressed elders, ranging from medications to group therapy.

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