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B. Depression And The Elderly Population

Narrator: This is Science Today. Depression can strike at any age, but it's often associated with the elderly. Patricia Arean, a professor of psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco says that's a common misconception.

Arean: People in their thirties -- 6% of that population meets criteria for a major depression as opposed to 2% of older people over the age of 65 meet criteria for a major depression. So in fact, it's less common in older patients.

Narrator: But Arean admits the belief that aging contributes to depression makes sense conceptually.

Arean: A person over the age of 65 tends to have at least one chronic illness that they're faced with and that in some ways prevents them from doing activities that they used to do at a certain level. Friends and family die off, and so it makes sense that if you're faced with all of these stressors that you would be more likely to become depressed.

Narrator: Arean is currently conducting studies in which patients work through their depression with problem solving techniques. For Science Today, I'm Larissa Branin.