Older Adults With Depression Showing Resilience in Pandemic

Mental health scores did not worsen during the first two months of the pandemic

depressed woman

FRIDAY, Aug. 21, 2020 (HealthDay News) -- Most older adults with preexisting major depressive disorder (MDD) showed resilience in the first two months of the COVID-19 pandemic, but they express concerns about the future as the pandemic continues, according to a study published in the September issue of The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.

Megan E. Hamm, Ph.D., from University of Pittsburgh, and colleagues interviewed 73 community-dwelling older adults with preexisting MDD to assess the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on their mental health.

The researchers found that participants' depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation symptom scores did not differ from scores before the pandemic. Interviews revealed five themes. Respondents were more concerned about the risk for contracting the virus than the risks of isolation. Participants showed resilience to the stress and isolation of physical distancing and were able to maintain virtual contact with friends and family to avoid social isolation. Yet, their quality of life is lower, and they worry continued physical distancing will be detrimental to their mental health. Lastly, respondents expressed outrage by an inadequate governmental response to the pandemic.

"Policies and interventions to provide access to medical services and opportunities for social interaction are needed to help to maintain mental health and quality of life as the pandemic continues," the authors write.

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