09-10 January 2009,  Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram

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Vishnu Gopal, Veena G, Sini Vijayan and Ram V Nambootiri
Department of Community Medicine, Govt. Medical College, Thiruvananthapuram


Depression is a common condition in older people affecting about 17-30% of community dwellers over the age of 65 years. Depression is one of the most common mental disorders affecting 340 million people in the world today. The World Health Organization (WHO) has predicted that by 2020, depression will be the second biggest health problem world-wide and leading cause of disability and death world-wide, second only to heart disease. On average, one in five people will experience depression at some point in their life. The outlook of our society to the elderly population is as if they are a burden. This attitude has to be changed. Elders are assets to any society. The contributions of elderly people; our senior citizens to the society is indispensable. Their rich experience, invaluable ideas, free guidance is much deserving assets of nation. They share all these with there younger generation without any hesitation. The elderly population has increased, their problems are also increasing and depression has become a major problem. it is important to assess the burden of depression among the two groups so as to take suitable interventions at the particular group and help them to tackle their problem and increase their quality of life. Depression is among the most treatable of psychiatric illnesses. More than 80 percent of those who actually seek treatment for major depression experience significant improvement and almost all individuals derive some benefit from medical care. Depression, if untreated, may lead to suicide. People with untreated severe depression have a suicide rate of about 15 percent. 


We devised a descriptive study among elderly population aged above 60years living in old age homes and in the community.50 cases from each group were interviewed using a structured questionnaire using GDS (Geriatric Depression Scale) which is widely accepted for assessing the depression among the elderly. Data was analyzed statistically using a t-test for significance. We analyzed the depression status among elderly, living in old age homes and in the community. We also looked into the age wise, sex wise and occupation wise distribution of depression as a whole.


Depression was found to be more in inmates of old age homes. Among the 50cases in old age homes, 4 of them were having mild depression, 28 were having moderate depression and 18 were having severe depression. Among the 50cases studied from the community 34 were having mild depression, 14 were having moderate depression and 2 were having severe depression. On sex wise analysis depression was found to be more among females. Occupation wise and age wise analysis proved to be insignificant.


From the results we came to a conclusion that depression was more among the inmates of old age homes. We put forward the following suggestions in order to bring down the depression
1. They should be encouraged to engage themselves more in social and cultural activities.
2. Those who are fit to do mild physical activity should be given opportunity to do some work and earn themselves
3. They should be encouraged to participate in prayer meetings.
4. They should be ensured care, love and feeling of security.
5. In cases of moderate to severe depression medical treatment should be given.

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