Posted by: Sue | 2009/08/25

Depression in the elderly

Hi Doc,
My mom is 75, she has recently suffered from a lengthy bout of poor health that ended up with her in hospital (pneumonia etc). She was given tramador whilst in hospital, that she had a severe allergic reaction to, and she suffered from night terrors for a week or so after this, possibly as a side effect. Her and my father live 800km from me, so I cannot check up on them on a daily basis except over the phone. My mom has suffered from depression for years, on and off, but at the moment it is pretty constant. She wont admit this to her doctor - or even my father, but has confided in me. She obviously cant be treated for it if she wont admit it. I am so worried about her. Is there anything she can take (OTC) that will help.
Please help!! I feel so helpless, and she is a very difficult stubborn person, so wont be pushed into anything - even if its to her benefit.

Many thanks

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Our expert says:
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Unfortunately there is nothing available over the counter that is useful for depression. The one partial alternative might be St John's Wort, which has shown some benefits in MILD depression, and works in ways rather like prozac. But one really doesn't want to encourage her to continue to avoid seeing a doctor or shrink which is really what she needs, so as to get a proper assessment and a proper examination of treatment alternatives. Encourage her to admit to her depression and to recognize that it is not her fault, and no disgrace at all, and that she deserves proper treatment for it.

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