Depression in the elderly is very common and may be difficult to diagnose. Because of its varied presentation and its frequent association with physical illness it will be encountered increasingly by all physicians as the elderly population expands. Depression, though treatable, is often not treated, and suicide rates are high among depressed elderly persons. Diagnostic difficulties lie in distinguishing depression from organic brain syndromes, from so-called masked depressions and from normal grief reactions. Pharmacologic treatment is effective, but care must be taken to recognize side effects and to use adequate doses. Psychologic approaches should focus on reducing feelings of helplessness and failing self-esteem. The importance of the losses borne by elderly persons in the pathogenesis of depression continues to be of theoretical and practical interest.
Cites: Am J Psychother. 1967 Oct;21(4):791-66065663
The authors have completed a large descriptive study of the system of psychiatric aftercare in Metropolitan Toronto. This article describes the relevant 6-month and 2-year postdischarge outcome in each of five aftercare components for 505 subjects in a traditional system of service delivery. Provincial hospital, research institute, and general hospital subgroups are compared. For the total group, recidivism and employment rates are similar to those found in previous studies. Symptoms and distress levels are high. Considerable numbers of subjects live in inadequate and unsatisfactory housing. Social isolation, inadequate income, and difficulties with instrumental role functioning are persistent problems with little improvement between 6 months and 2 years postdischarge. Differences among the subgroups vary according to type of outcome and, for the most part, can be explained by differences in the characteristics of the patients served by the three types of inpatient treatment settings. These findings provide additional information about serious deficiencies in discharge planning and aftercare service delivery that is focused primarily upon the treatment of illness. The authors conclude that a more balanced system of aftercare requires a shift in resources to rehabilitation programs in the community.
Differences between 24 female and 35 male clients were assessed at entry into an intensive case management program serving homeless shelter residents and again nine months later. Both men and women were socially isolated, with small social networks and severe deficits in social functioning. Histories of homelessness were similar for both genders, and there were no gender differences in psychopathology at baseline or follow-up. At entry into the program women had higher levels of social skills, larger and more supportive networks, and better housing conditions than men, but these differences disappeared after the subjects spent nine months in the program. Inadequate living conditions may have contributed to the more negative initial picture for men. Although there were more similarities than differences between the men and women in this sample, more research on gender differences is needed to design and evaluate programs for homeless mentally ill persons.
There is evidence that home treatment is an effective alternative to hospital admission for patients with acute psychiatric illnesses. This report describes processes necessary to establish and disseminate home treatment programs as well as the impact and comparative cost of a home treatment program developed in Metropolitan Toronto. Organizational analysis revealed a number of essential structures and interactions necessary to facilitate smooth functioning for home treatment programs involving several agencies. Attitudes towards home treatment were positive, symptoms were reduced, family burden decreased, satisfaction was high and home treatment was preferred to hospital admission. Economic data indicate that home treatment is less costly than hospitalization.
This study examines whether rural Ontario differs from urban Ontario in mood disorder prevalence, health service use and concomitant disability. An epidemiologic community survey of 9953 individuals was conducted, with rural/urban status defined by population-density-related criteria. Overall, Ontario prevalence rates for depression, manic episode, and dysthymia were similar to previous studies, but rural rates were unexpectedly no different from urban ones. Nearly half of mood disorder subjects used no services, and one-third reported significant disability. Rural individuals with mood disorders were similar to their urban counterparts in service use and disability.
Deinstitutionalization in Canada produced a shift in locus of care from provincial psychiatric hospitals to general hospital psychiatric units. As a result of this approach, a number of key planning issues have emerged that most provinces are attempting to address.
Planning mental health services is a complex task requiring an understanding of background developments and key issues related to mental health services. In Canada, the deinstitutionalization of patients attempted to shift the locus of care from provincial psychiatric hospitals to general hospital psychiatric units. This resulted in the isolation of provincial psychiatric hospitals, general hospital psychiatric units and community mental health programs, with little overall accountability for the services provided--three solitudes. To move toward the creation of responsible, integrated systems a number of issues must be addressed: target population(s); the roles of provincial psychiatric and general hospitals; community support services; continuity of care; co-morbidity; consumerism; and methods of integration. In the development of a comprehensive mental health plan, each issue should be recognized and decisions made which are in keeping with current knowledge. A companion report will survey Canadian initiatives in mental health planning and discuss approaches to many of the issues identified.
A brief overview of recent policy developments across Canada and a discussion of the common themes and challenges they address demonstrates the scope of activity in this field. The federal level of mental health planning and a summary of recent of policy developments in each province are described. Significant progress has been made in Canada in the development of mental health services since deinstitutionalization. Major challenges remain, however, which are being addressed to varying degrees across the country. The challenges related to the key issues of major mental illness, integration and consumerism are illustrated.