Study: Successful treatment of depression slows physical decline, too

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Successfully treating depression in older adults also helps slow their physical decline, according to recently released study results.

Researchers conducted a yearlong study of 1,801 patients aged 60 or older with major depressive symptoms. They found that the patients who were successfully treated for their depression showed improvement in their ability to perform tasks essential to independent living, including managing money and taking medications.

While previous studies have demonstrated the success of depression treatment in the elderly, this study is the first to show how improved emotional health can lead to better physical health, said the researchers at Indiana University School of Medicine. Patients in the 60-and-older group with depression, on average, report more functional impairment than those without depression, according to the study report.

The study appears in the March issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.