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Do older people respond better to counselling for depression?
East Sussex Counsellors have blogged before about the issue of depression in older people. Studies have show that depression can last longer in people of older generations than in the young. As we get older we can be more prone to depression after bereavement or other losses in our lives, and sometimes it can be worsened by loneliness.
We have also raised the issue of access to help for older people, and about the possible need for treatment to be tailored to specific age groups.
But first people (of all generations) might need to be able to acknowledge that they have a problem. And this might be a particular issue for the over 65s. Although it is true that the stigma around mental illness continues to decline in our society as a whole, that stigma appears to remain significant for older people.
Work by the Royal College of Psychiatrists suggests that three times as many older people would feel uncomfortable telling someone that they had depression as they would concerning arthritis. Too many people, it seems, wrongly assume that misery is inevitable in old age. But the Royal College argues that if people can get past this apparent stigma and actually ask for help they are likely to find that talking therapies such as counselling are actually even more effective than they are for younger generations. The Royal College’s data suggest that 60% of over-65s recover after a course of talking therapy, compared with 48% of those aged 36 to 64.
This evidence ties in well with our experience as members of the East Sussex Counsellors group. Whether we are counselling in Hastings, Eastbourne, Bexhill or other parts of the county, we find that when older people come forward for counselling they generally respond well to therapy and can regain a sense of power and choice in their lives.
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