Term Paper: Depression in Young and Older

Pages: 9 (2252 words)  ·  Bibliography Sources: 1+  ·  Level: College Senior  ·  Topic: Sports - Women  ·  Buy This Paper

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[. . .] However, approximately 10 to 20% of older women still experience "clinically significant depressive symptoms (Simonds, 2001, p. 121)."

The most important risk factor for depression in older women, according to studies, is physical health problems, such as pain, functional problems, and side effects of medications and treatments (Simonds, 2001, p. 122).

Structural brain changes, vascular risk factors, and cognitive impairment in older women are often to as vascular depression, which can render patients less affected by antidepressant treatment and may have a more chronic course than other forms of depression. Late onset depression can also be a symptom of dementia in older women.

In the past, many researchers have suggested that the "empty nest syndrome" is the major cause of depression in older women (NIMH, 1999). However, recent research reveals that the lack of increased rates of depression among older women suggests that most women do not get depressed when children leave home.

As with younger women, more elderly women than men suffer from depression. For both young and older women, being unmarried (which includes widowhood) is a major risk factor for depression. Despite this, depression cannot be dismissed as a normal consequence of the physical, social and economic problems of getting old.

In fact, studies show that the rate of clinical depression in older people is lower than that of the general population, and that most older people feel satisfied with their lives (NIMH, 1999)."

Approximately 800,000 persons are widowed each year (NIMH, 1999). Most of these widows are older, female, and experience varying degrees of depression. Most do not require medical treatment, but many who are moderately or extremely sad can benefit from self-help groups or various psychosocial treatments.

A third of widows meet criteria for major depressive episode in the first month after the death, yet only half of these remain clinically depressed one year later. These depressions respond to standard antidepressant medications, although the optimal timing of the intervention is a matter of clinical judgment.

According to Boyles (2002), older women do not respond as well to depression treatments as younger women, and the reason could be hormonal.

A recent study evaluated the effectiveness of both drugs and psychotherapy in treating chronic depressive symptoms, revealing that women over the age of 60 were among the least likely to benefit from the treatment.

The study revealed that hormonal changes in postmenopausal women could affect their ability to recover from depression. "An earlier study found that older women taking estrogen replacement therapy tend to have an improved response to antidepressant drugs in the class known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), such as Paxil and Prozac (Boyles, 2002)."

This study suggests that older women who are being treated for depression may have an additional need for hormone replacement therapy to see results.

Conclusion

Although women of all ages suffer from depression, it predominantly affects younger women, particularly those in their childbearing years. For all age groups, depression poses serious social problems, as is one of the most common and serious mental health problems facing women today.

While most women experience feelings of sadness, despair, or melancholy in their lives, clinical depression occurs when these feeling are predominant for long periods of time. If untreated, these feeling can last for years. Depression can affect an individual's to function effectively throughout the day or even get out of bed in the morning.

Fortunately, depression is a treatable condition. However, fewer than one in three women with symptoms of depression actually seek treatment. This is especially true for younger women. It is important for women to realize that depression is a serious disorder and that there is treatment available to those who suffer from it.

This research study has taught me a lot about depression in women of all age groups. I have learned about the various genetic, environmental, psychosocial, and hormonal factors involved with depression and how they affect young and older women. In addition, I have learned a lot about the importance of treatment for depression.

Bibliography

Blumenthal, Susan. (Fall, 1996). Gender Differences in Depression. The Decade of the Brain, NAMI, Volume VII, Issue 3.

Boyles, Salynn. (February 14, 2002). Older Women Have Tough Time With Depression. WebMD Medical News.

Merschino, Diane. (July 2002). Depression in Young Women. Women's College Hospital Foundation.

National Institute of Mental Health. (October, 1999). Depression: What Every Woman Should Know. NIMH Publication No. 95-3871.

Rao, Umo. (July 1999). Continuity of Depression During the Transition to Adulthood: A 5-Year… [END OF PREVIEW]

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