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Schweiz Med Wochenschr. 1986 Mar 8;116(10):314-22.

[Depressive states in the elderly and their treatment].

[Article in French]


The clinical classification of depressive states has undergone considerable modification in the past few years. More particularly, the various clinical forms described earlier in relation to age or dubious etiological hypotheses have been reorganized within the framework of general categories of depression established according to clinical criteria. This development has been largely due to the work accomplished by the American Psychiatric Association Task Force and its Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, which has become a standard reference work worldwide. With its precise criteria, this classification enables clinicians to adjust therapeutic indications more readily to each particular case. Monotherapy is the rule of thumb for the pharmacological treatment of depression, particularly in the elderly. Combination of medications in the treatment of agitated or melancholic depressive states must be limited to situations in which it is absolutely necessary, and in such cases it is even more important to monitor blood levels than in monotherapy. When there is a significant psychotic component to major depression (hallucinations, delusions), it is advisable to undertake specific antipsychotic treatment before initiating antidepressant medication. In the majority of cases it is possible to treat depressive states in the elderly by appropriate selection of both medication and dosage, and by careful clinical attention to the patients' physical and psychological well-being.

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