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Participants Needed for Pitt Late Life Depression Study


Fewer than 50 percent of people over the age of 60 who experience depression will achieve remission and recovery in response to first-line treatments for depression. Those who donít remit after therapy often are left with significant symptoms and can go on to develop functional impairment, putting them at higher risk of chronic, relapsing illness and suicide, interfering with their ability to adhere to medical treatment for other conditions and increasing family caregiver burden.

Researchers with the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine are looking to enroll 720 participants aged 60 and older with major unipolar depression in a 16-week study to determine if an increase in medication coupled with a commonly used therapy can help those who donít respond to standard pharmacotherapy.

For the first six weeks of the study, participants will be given an FDA-approved medication, which is considered to be the standard first-line treatment for major depression, along with clinical management of their symptoms. Those who do not respond or who only partially respond to the treatment will be assigned to receive 16 more weeks of the same medication at a higher dosage and either clinical management of their symptoms or interpersonal psychotherapy.

Over the 16-week period, participants will be evaluated for changes in common measures for depressive symptoms, including hopelessness, suicidal ideation, disability and family caregiving burden.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, an estimated two million Americans over the age of 65 have a depressive illness, and another five million may be struggling with depressive symptoms. Major depression is defined by a persistently down mood and/or loss of interest in normal activities for two weeks or more, accompanied by poor functioning in important life areas such as work, relationships and/or health. Other symptoms can include a significant change in weight, changes in sleep patterns, agitation, fatigue, feelings of worthlessness or guilt, diminished concentration, indecisiveness and thoughts of death or suicide.


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