A group treatment for depression in the elderly



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Depression is a common problem among the elderly and until recently has received little attention from professionals. This study reviewed current etiological theories and treatments for this problem and generated a six week group treatment designed to increase life satisfactionin the elderly. This treatment was offered to 49 residents of senior citizen apartments in the Houston area. Group sessions involved 5-7 residents and lasted 1.5 hours. A waiting-list control group was used as a comparison sample. This treatment proposed to use self-control techniques to increase pleasant activities and decrease aversive influences in the subject's life. It was hypothesized that the treatment subjects would have lower depression scores and higher life satisfaction scores than the control group at posttest. Neither of these hypotheses were supported. At posttest treatment subjects showed no increase in frequency or enjoyment of pleasant events and although they did significantly decrease their depression scores, they improved no more than the subjects who did not receive treatment. Possible reasons for the lack of treatment effectiveness and suggestions for future treatment research are offered.



Depression in old age, Treatment, Group psychotherapy, Older people