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Saturday 26th May 2018

Depressed over-65s 'denied help'

12th August 2008

The charity Age Concern has warned that nearly two million depressed over 65s in England may not be given treatment by the NHS because the illness is incorrectly viewed as a "natural part of getting older".

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The charity's study showed that many elderly people who looked for treatment were regularly "fobbed off" or given the wrong diagnosis.

GPs also gave elderly patients prescriptions for drugs when they may have seen more benefit from counselling services.

Doctors give specialist mental health referrals to only one in 10 elderly patients in comparison to around half of younger people.

Rules within the NHS discriminate against people aged over 65 and mean that in some instances GPs cannot refer them for specialist care.

According to Age Concern, in total, 80% of older people who are clinically depressed are not treated.

The charity's new campaign is called "Down, but not out" and is designed to help elderly depressed people.

Gordon Lishman, director general of Age Concern, said: "It is scandalous that hundreds of thousands of older people may be denied treatment because depression is wrongly seen as a natural part of getting older."

Elizabeth McLennan, senior policy officer for Help the Aged, said: "General Practitioners have a key role to play in more effectively pinpointing possible depression as patients present themselves."


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