Depression and Medical Illness in Later Life

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In the elderly, depression appearing with medical illness seems to be the rule rather than the exceptionand leads to significant comorbidity. Effective diagnosis and treatment is therefore essential. Comorbidityinvariably leads to conceptual and diagnostic dilemmas, since depression may be both acause and a consequence of medical illness. Thus, the pathways through which depression and medicalillness interact are considered. Treatment issues pertinent to depression comorbid with medicalillness are presented, and the utility of reciprocal models that can help formulate treatment plans isdiscussed. Overall, the need for interventions that improve quality of life for individuals with depressionand chronic health problems is highlighted.

Primary Care Companion J Clin Psychiatry 2000;2(suppl 5):9-14