Int J Psychiatry Med. 2009;39(4):345-58.
Depression is very common in people above 65 years living in long-term care. However, little is known about how well depression is recognized and how adequately it is treated. Therefore, the present study aimed at assessing accuracy of the unaided clinical diagnosis of the attending physicians, and the medical treatment situation in nursing home residents.
A random sample of 97 residents of 10 nursing homes in Munich was examined with the Section A “Affective Syndrome” of the Structured Clinical Interview (SCID) for DSM-IV to detect depression. Information concerning clinical diagnosis and medication was obtained from the subjects’ medical records.
14.4% suffered acutely from major depression, 14.4% suffered from minor depression, and 18.6% were diagnosed as depressive according to the physician and nursing records. In total, 27.8% received antidepressants. Merely 42.9% of the subjects with acute major depression were diagnosed by their attending physicians as depressive, and only half of them received an antidepressant; 17.5% received antidepressants without a diagnosis of depression in their physician and nursing records. In accordance with the guidelines, 73.3% of the antidepressants prescribed were SSRIs or newer antidepressants. Only 20.0% were tricyclic antidepressants.
Findings show that depression is relatively frequent in residents of nursing homes. Moreover, it is insufficiently recognized by physicians and is even more seldom adequately treated. Also, a significant proportion of residents receive antidepressants without a documented associated indication. Therefore, the recognition and guideline-based treatment of depression should be improved in this high-risk group.