Huge Difference By Region When It Comes To Prescribing Antidepressants To Elderly
GAINESVILLE - There is a tendency for people to see depression symptoms as part of the normal aging process. That's why experts say depression in the elderly may go undertreated. Here in North Central Florida it may be just the opposite.
A study shows the percentage of those under Medicare filing for antidepressants is higher in both North Central Florida and the panhandle than anywhere else in the country.
Seth Mahl a UF student who has a father in his late 70's says he can understand why. "One of the main reasons I think seniors take antidepressants is a sense of loneliness. The fact that they are by themselves they don't do a lot, they've been doing the same routine day in and day out for the last 20 to 30 years," Mahl said.
Dr. Jacqueline Orlando a psychologist in Gainesville for the past 30 years says this age group tends to be one of the most vulnerable. "But often times people lose their competency, their friends, they lose their physical health and they don't really have support systems in place to be able to feel better about themselves," Orlando said.
Because of the aging population, experts think that the number of seniors suffering from depression will increase with time.
When it comes to seniors taking antidepressants, cities like San Francisco have a 12% however Gainesville is at 21%.
Dr. Orlando says the results may have something to do with socio-economics of North Central Florida.
"I think the cohesion of the physicians with themselves and the community enables people to open up more and they can go and seek an antidepressant," Dr. Orlando said.
Dr. Orlando says the number of seniors taking antidepressants in Gainesville may be higher due to facilities like the VA and UF health.
Researchers in the study by Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice found there is a huge difference by region when it comes to prescribing to the elderly in general, as the study didn't just look into antidepressants but dementia drugs and other medications as well.
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