Geriatric depression is a common but frequently unrecognized or inadequately treated condition in the elderly population. Manifestations of major depression in elderly persons may hinder early detection; anxiety, somatic complaints, cognitive impairment, and concurrent medical and neurologic disorders are more frequent. Like major depression, minor depression, which is often ignored, produces morbidity for elderly persons. Both major and minor depression are associated with high mortality rates if left untreated. This article reviews the important aspects of geriatric depression for the nonpsychiatric clinician: the etiology of depressive conditions in the elderly population, the unique clinical features of depression in older people, important evaluation considerations in a population with many medical and neurologic comorbidities, and the nonpharmacological and pharmacological treatment options for managing depression in the geriatric population.
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