Mechanisms and treatment of late-life depression

George S. Alexopoulos
2019 Translational Psychiatry  
Depression predisposes to medical illnesses and advances biological aging indicated by shorter telomere length, accelerated brain aging and advanced epigenetic aging. Medical illnesses also increase the risk of late-life depression. The reciprocal relationships of depression with aging-related and disease-related processes have generated pathogenetic hypotheses and provided treatment targets. Targeting risk factors of vascular disease in mid-life is a logical approach in prevention of vascular
more » ... epression. The depression-executive dysfunction and the vascular depression syndromes have clinical presentations and neuroimaging findings consistent with frontostriatal abnormalities. Dopamine D2/3 agonists are effective in depression of Parkinson's disease and their efficacy needs to be assessed in these two syndromes. Computerized cognitive remediation targeting functions of the cognitive control network may improve both executive functions and depressive symptoms of late-life major depression. Significant progress has been made in neurostimulation treatments in depressed younger adults. TMS targeting deep structures responsible for mood regulation is well tolerated by older adults and its efficacy in syndromes of late-life depression needs to be studied. Efficacious psychotherapies for late-life depression exist, but are underutilized in part because of their complexity. Streamlined, stepped psychotherapies targeting behaviors assumed to result from dysfunction of brain networks implicated in late-life depression can be easy to learn and have potential for dissemination. However, their effectiveness needs further investigation. Depression increases the risk of dementing disorders. Antidepressants are rather ineffective in treating depression of demented patients, but long-term use of antidepressants may reduce the risk of dementia. However, confirmation studies are needed.
doi:10.1038/s41398-019-0514-6 pmid:31383842 pmcid:PMC6683149 fatcat:c7bc6oy6lneu3pm55orv3tvsnq