5 psychotherapies to treat geriatric depression

At times, it is normal to find elderly people sitting quietly in some part of the house or in a garden. It is probably their way to find solace and peace from the continuous hustle-bustle of life. But this may not be the case every time! When a senior citizen frequently displays such behavior and is often found feeling sad and low, it is probably the development of depression, termed as geriatric depression (GD) in the elderly.


There is no single factor that can cause geriatric depression, a combination of genetic, biological, social, and psychological factors can lead to its development. Other factors known to cause GD are low levels of neurotransmitters in the human brain, family history of depression, traumatic life events, such as abuse or death of a loved one, etc.

Geriatric depression can also be triggered by factors like limited mobility, isolation, mortality of a loved one, transitioning from work to retirement, financial hardships, long-time substance abuse, chronic medical condition, etc.

Treatment options

Geriatric depression can make the elderly experience sadness, feelings of worthlessness, irritability, fatigue and crying spells. However, there are various ways to treat the condition, such as medications, psychotherapies, and counselling. While the working of medicines and counselling is difficult to understand, few of the effective psychotherapies to treat depression are discussed below:

1. Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT): CBT is an effective therapy that can help cure depression quickly and easily. Focusing on the ways in which one’s own thought process and behaviors contribute to the development of depression, the therapist helps the depressed person learn ways in which he/she should react in different life situations and challenges. Writing down one’s thoughts and reading books are some of the ways in which this therapy works.

2. Interpersonal therapy (IPT): This one is a short-term, manual-based treatment in which the therapist focuses on the ways in which the concerned person interacts or doesn’t interact with other individuals. Unveiling the ways in which one’s relationships play a role in his/her depression, the therapy focuses on practical issues as well as help one identify his/her unhealthy behaviors.

3. Psychodynamic therapy: Also known as insight-oriented therapy, it helps curb depression by making one realize how his/her past experience is influencing his/her present. The aim is to help the person develop an understanding about his/her unresolved conflicts that have established themselves as a requirement to abuse substances.

4. Individual therapy: It involves a one-on-one session conducted in a safe and confidential environment between the person and a professional therapist who is experienced in treating depression. The individual gets a chance to explore his/her state of mind, feelings and beliefs as well as work towards developing new strategies that can help him/her manage stress and keep depression at bay.

5. Problem-solving therapy: This therapy aims to help a person develop an optimistic view towards coping with difficult life situations. It helps the depressed person understand the role played by emotions in his/her mental health condition and also guide him/her to follow ways that would help manage it better.

Finding a therapist to treat depression

Psychotherapies are considered to be one of the most effective ways to treat depression in elderly. These are highly recommended for those who have faced major stresses in life, such as loss of friends and family and chronic health problems, among others. The therapies can also work effectively to treat the condition in those who do not prefer to take medications, have only mild to moderate symptoms, or are at a risk of dangerous drug interactions.

If you or someone you know is dealing with depression or any other form of mental illness, 24/7 Mental Health Helpline can help you connect with one of the best mental health facilities in the U.S. Contact our 24/7 helpline number 855-653-8178 or chat online with one of our experts to get complete information about the mental health residential facilities near you.