A study showed that half of older men using antidepressant medication or psychotherapy are not responding to treatment.

Professor Osvaldo Almeida, author of Plos-One and Research Director of the Western Australian Centre for Health and Ageing at the University of Western Australia, said the results were very alarming.

This is a big issue, not only because depression causes significant personal suffering and disability, but also because our results show that these men are also more likely to die, Professor Almeida said.

We found that older men who were using antidepressants but remained depressed had a substantially higher mortality risk.  However, men using antidepressants who were free of depressive symptoms had a similar mortality risk over 10 years as the rest of the population.”

Professor Almeida said the increased mortality risk linked with antidepressant use is due to the persistence of depressive symptoms even if the person received treatment.

He added that the results of the study should be proof that the efficacy of current antidepressant treatments should be improved.

We need to do something urgently to improve the efficacy of our treatments for depression.  We are currently running two new studies at our Centre that try to do just that.

Depression is a common condition that affects one in ten people over 60 years old living in the community.