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Depression can create sleep problems, loss of appetite, lack of interest in activities and general withdrawal. Seniors with depression and acute or chronic conditions have an even harder time staying active and engaged.

Older adults with depression can improve their symptoms through group cognitive behavioral psychotherapy (CBT), a common support therapy that includes discussion and socialization with others, according to new research published in JAMDA, the journal of AMDA—The Society for Post-Acute and Long-Term Care Medicine.

Researchers in Germany studied 155 seniors aged 82 to 88 with depression and hospitalized for an acute or chronic illness to see how taking part in group discussions would affect them. Half the group used weekly CBT session for 15 weeks, while the other half had no formal psychotherapy intervention. The group participating in CBT showed “significantly improved” depression scores, as well as improved functional and cognitive status and a higher engagement in activities. The group that had no CBT had worse depression scores at the end of the study period than when it began.

“CBT is feasible and highly effective in geriatric patients,” the study authors write. “The benefits extend beyond effective recovery and include improvement in physical and functional parameters. Early diagnosis, good access to psychotherapy, and early intervention could improve care for depressive older patients.”

Topics: Clinical