Study: 'Talking it out' isn't for everyone

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Anxiety and depression are rampant among elderly nursing home residents, but a new study shows that one common treatment may not be as helpful as once thought in this particular population.

Cognitive behavior therapy, which typically consists of one-on-one talk therapy between a therapist and a client, is a mainstay for treating anxiety in people of all ages. The goal in cognitive behavior therapy is to change the flawed thinking that contributes to the anxious feelings. Some therapists prefer CBT because, unlike medication, it attempts to address the cause of the anxiety rather than the symptoms.

But in a study conducted by researchers at King's College London, CBT's benefits were less robust when tested on elderly individuals than younger participants.

“The prevailing assumption tends to be that what works with working-age people will work with older people, but this might not actually be the case,” lead author Rebecca Gould, Ph.D. said.

Experts aren't sure why CBT is less effective in the elderly, but some suspect it just may take longer to work.
The study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.