Depression in the medically ill elderly:
a focus on methylphenidate

Emptage RE, Semla TP
Department of Pharmacy Practice,
University of Illinois at Chicago, USA.
Ann Pharmacother 1996 Feb; 30(2):151-7


OBJECTIVE: To describe depression in the medically ill elderly and discuss methylphenidate as a treatment option. DATA SOURCES: A MEDLINE search from 1986 to 1995 was done to identify the literature published on depression in the medically ill as well as the literature on the use of methylphenidate for depression in the medically ill elderly. The references of articles found were evaluated for other relevant articles. STUDY SELECTION: Retrospective and prospective studies that evaluated the use of methylphenidate in depressed, medically ill elderly were reviewed. DATA EXTRACTION: Information on depression in the medically ill elderly was abstracted from original and review articles on the subject. The information pertaining to methylphenidate came from clinical studies. CONCLUSIONS: Depression in the medically ill elderly occurs frequently and is underdetected in part because of the difficulty in diagnosing depression in this population. Methylphenidate has been found to be a safe and effective treatment of depression in the medically ill elderly. A potential advantage of methylphenidate over other antidepressants is its relatively quick onset of action, usually within 2-5 days. Older patients whose depressive symptoms are interfering with their functional capabilities or participation in prescribed therapies to improve or restore function after a medical illness should be considered for a trial of methylphenidate.
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