Why older people with depression are less likely to be referred for treatment

older people depression less likely mental health treatment
(Image credit: Getty)

A study has found that older people with depression are less likely to be referred for treatment.

New research by SunLife found that only 6 per cent of older people with depression (opens in new tab) currently end up being referred to mental health services, while with younger people up 50 per cent of sufferers end up being referred.

And the study found that one of biggest reasons for older people’s mental health problems was that they were lonely.

According to the research, 25 per cent of those aged 55 or over are lonely at times while nearly a third a lonely all of the time.

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One in 12 also said that they have become lonelier since passing their 50th birthdays.

The research found that 19 per cent of people over 50 live alone while the number rises to more than a quarter for those over 65 years old.

“Our research shows that the older we get, the more prone we can become to emotional and mental well-being challenges,” said Ian Atkinson, marketing director at SunLife.

older people depression less likely mental health treatment

“This is because there are a number of changes in life that can have an impact such as children leaving home and stopping working, as well as the fact that people over 50 are less likely to talk about how they’re feeling and therefore less likely to get the help and support they need.

“As we get older there are lots of things we can do to help our mental well-being, such as ensuring we are doing enough physical activity, eating well, getting enough sleep and creating opportunities to connect with other people.

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“Our blog – It’s time to talk about mental health, explains more about mental health in older age, with advice about how to spot that you or someone you know may be struggling, and what older people can do to improve their mental health.”

If you are in need of mental health advice visit the NHS website for guidance.

Aleesha Badkar
Aleesha Badkar

Aleesha is a digital shopping writer at woman&home—so whether you're looking for beauty, fashion, health or home buys, she knows what the best buys are at any moment. She earned an MA in Magazine Journalism from City, University of London in 2017 and has since worked with a number of brands including Women's Health, Stylist and Goodto. A year on the w&h news team gained her invaluable insight into where to get the best lifestyle releases first—as well as an AOP awards nomination.