The Washington Post (4/10, Butler) reports that “aging does seem to make us more vulnerable to depression, but it’s not a foregone conclusion.” Susan Lehmann, MD, director of the Geriatric Psychiatry Day Hospital at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, “notes that research has shown that major depression occurs in about two percent of people 65 and older, while minor depression strikes about a quarter of them, with the number even higher in nursing homes.” Research also suggests that strong social connections can be a proactive safeguard against depression among the elderly, Dr. Lehmann notes.
Small Study: Shortened Telomere Length May Be Associated With Depression, Trauma. On the front of its Personal Journal section, the Wall Street Journal (4/10, D1, Wang, Subscription Publication) reports that according to research conducted in 2011 at the University of California-San Francisco and published in the journal Biological Psychiatry, shortened telomere length, a normal phenomenon of aging, may be associated with depression and even trauma in childhood. In a study involving 47 healthy adult controls and 43 adults with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), researchers found that telomeres were shorter in the people who had PTSD. On average, the shorter length equaled an aging gain of about 4.5 years. A Swedish study of 91 patients with major depression and 451 mentally healthy controls, published this past February in the journal Biological Psychiatry, found an association between shortened telomeres with depression and perceived stress.
— “Aging makes people more vulnerable to depression, but the problem can be treated,”Carolyn Butler, The Washington Post, April 9, 2012.