Clinical depression is one of the most common mental health disorders detailed in many psychological patient education brochures, and nearly 7 percent of American adults suffer from some form of the condition, reported the U.S. National Institute of Mental Health. However, according to a new research conducted by the University of Michigan, depression rates in people over 50 have been on a steady decline.
According to the University of Michigan Health System, a new study that appears in the Journal of General Internal Medicine has showed surprising results of decreased rates of depression in middle-aged and elderly adults. The study examined data from the Health and Retirement Study, a sample of older Americans that took place between 1998 and 2008. On the whole, depression rates have fallen among older adults, while a small slice of the population – adults between the ages of 55 and 59 – surprisingly showcase increased rates of depression.
"Over that decade, we saw a significant decrease in depression among older adults, and we need further studies to explore whether this is the result of improved treatment," lead study author Kara Zivin, Ph.D, with the University of Michigan Medical School, told the news source. "However, a significant percent of our population is still experiencing severe symptoms of depression, and we need to do more to ensure all of these groups have proper access to treatment."
While the study results are a major win for mental health professionals, there is still plenty of work to be done to stem the tide of depression that is common among late-in-life adults. Whether these individuals are mourning the death of a loved one, facing economic problems or isolation, depression among older adults will still be a chief mental health issue that healthcare professionals will face in the near future, but the University of Michigan study showcases that improved treatments methods are part of the solution.