Mental Health Depression and Older Adults By Adult Congenital Heart Disease Center, November 4, 2013 While it may be common, it’s important to know that depression is not a normal part of aging. More than 6.5 million Americans over age 65 experience late-life depression that can last for months and even years. But many older adults and their caretakers don’t seek treatment because they think depression is inevitable as we age. Its symptoms — irritability, social isolation, poor sleep, loss of appetite, and memory loss — also are easily mistaken as signs of other illnesses. “Depression erodes our quality of life, our productivity, and our ability to have fulfilling relationships,” explains Charles Reynolds III, MD, director, Aging Institute of UPMC Senior Services and the University of Pittsburgh, UPMC Endowed Professor of Geriatric Psychiatry at Western Psychiatric Institute and Clinic of UPMC, and director of the Center of Excellence in Late Life Depression Prevention and Treatment Research at the University of Pittsburgh. The center is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). “Untreated, late-life depression puts older adults at risk for significant declines in their mental and physical health. It can be so debilitating that it threatens their ability to live independently,” he notes. “But the right professional help and medications can be life changing for these individuals.” A Wide Range of Support The center offers expertise in the detection, prevention, and treatment of depression, stress, complicated bereavement, or bipolar disorders in older adults. Through its research focus, all visits and medications are provided at no cost. Its services include: Preventive services, evaluation, and consultation Treatment through therapy and/or medication Participation in innovative research studies Educational support Referrals for assistance One of the Nation’s Leading Programs of its Kind The Center of Excellence in Late Life Depression Prevention and Treatment Research is located in the Oakland area of Pittsburgh at both the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and Western Psychiatric. It is one of only three centers of excellence in geriatric psychiatry funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and the John A. Hartford Foundation. Research studies benefit patients today and tomorrow Among the center’s current research studies are efforts to improve sleep patterns, lower stress levels, promote brain health, and reduce pain as a way of preventing depression among adults age 60 and older. These include: RECALL: A study about reducing stress among seniors experiencing mild memory, language, or judgment loss RAPID: A study for adults with osteoarthritis knee pain Addressing Pain and Depression Together (ADAPT): A study for adults living with both depression and back pain Healing Emotions After Loss (HEAL): A study for adults ages 18 to 95 who are experiencing prolonged or acute grief lasting six months or more over the loss of a loved one To learn more about the center’s services or to participate in one of its current research programs, call 412-246-6006 or visit the Late Life Depression Prevention and Treatment Center website.