In a study published in the American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, reported treating 112 participants with major depression, aged 60 years and older, with the antidepressant Lexapro for four weeks. The 73 who responded to the drug continued to receive it for 10 more weeks and were randomly assigned to two hours a week of health education or tai chi. All the respondents were evaluated for their anxiety, resilience, health-related quality of life, cognition, immune-system inflammation and levels of depression at the start of the study and four months later.
The study found that:
- Compared with taking the health education class, performing the ancient Chinese mind-body exercise of tai chi helped more adults reduce their depressive symptoms and achieve remission.
- It also improved quality of life, memory, cognition and overall energy levels.æ
Depression in older adults carries significant risk for decline in health. More than 60% of elderly patients treated for depression fail to achieve remission and functional recovery with medications alone.æ
- Older patients with depression are reported to have more physical illness and chronic pain than younger depressed adults.