Treating depression in later life

by Dr Cathy Symonds and Professor Julian Hughes


This is a substantial revision of a previous module by Professor Robert Baldwin, Dr Deepak K. Sachdeva and Dr Amit Nulkar. The authors acknowledge their contribution, especially that of Professor Baldwin.


Published: February 2016


Depression is common and, as at other times, can be devastating in later life.


Depression is the leading cause of disability (WHO, 2008) and the cost of treating depression is greater than that of treating hypertension and diabetes combined (Department of Health, 1996). 


It requires optimal management, which is challenging because of its different aetiological factors, comorbidities and because of the interplay with cognitive impairment and dementia.


This module will concentrate on the treatment of depression in later life. It will cover:


  • the nature and frequency of late-life depression  


  • diagnostic issues in later life


  • psychological issues, including loss and change in roles


  • how the presentation of depression changes in later life


  • how to improve recognition and detection of late-life depression


  • the crucial interplay of depressive disorder in later life with physical comorbidity and cognitive impairment


  • how to improve outcomes.


Start the module


Please note: This module was published in 2016. Please be aware when completing the module that some of the guidance may have changed.

If you are interested in updating this material, please contact us.

If you like this module, you may also be interested in:


Basics of geriatric medicine by Dr Vellingiri Raja Badrakalimuthu


Dementia: capacity, empowerment and conflicts of interest by Professor Gill Livingston and Professor Cornelius Katona


Inappropriate sexual behaviour in dementia by Dr Ankush Singhal and Dr Rahul Tomar


Neuroimaging in dementia

by Dr Dane Rayment, Dr Lauren McCluskey, Professor Iain Lyburn and Dr Tarun Kuruvilla


Neuropsychiatric problems in Parkinson's disease by Dr J. Serra-Mestres and Dr S. Mukhopadhyay


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