We live in an ageing world. Illnesses that are prevalent and cause significant morbidity and mortality in older people will consume an increasing share of health care resources. One such illness is depression. This illness has a particularly devastating impact in the elderly because it is often undiagnosed or inadequately treated. Depression not only has a profound impact on quality of life but it is associated with an increased risk of mortality from suicide and vascular disease. In fact for every medical illness studied, e.g. heart disease, diabetes, cancer, individuals who are depressed have a worse prognosis. Research has illuminated the physiological and behavioural effects of depression that accounts for these poor outcomes. The deleterious relationship between depression and other illnesses has changed the concept of late-life depression from a "psychiatric disorder" that is diagnosed and treated by a psychiatrist to a common and serious disorder that is the responsibility of all physicians who care for patients over the age of 60. This is the first volume devoted to the epidemiology, phenomenology, psychobiology, treatment and consequences of late-life depression.
Although much has been written about depressive disorders, the focus has been primarily on the illness as experienced in younger adults. The effects of ageing on the brain, the physiological and behavioural consequences of recurrent depression, and the impact of other diseases common in the elderly, make late-life depression a distinct entity. There is a compelling need for a separate research program, specialized treatments, and a book dedicated to this disorder. This book will be invaluable to psychiatrists, gerontologists, clinical psychologists, social workers, students, trainees, and others who care for individuals over the age of 60.