Spirituality/Medicine Interface Project

Spirituality, Depression, and the Elderly

Authors: Dan G. Blazer, MD, PHD


The burden of depression will undoubtedly increase among the elderly. The increased burden of depression will be manifested by at least two factors: the increase in the absolute number of older people as the baby-boom generation enters later life, and the heavier burden of depression carried by the baby-boom generation compared with older cohorts. Some have connected the increased frequency of depression among younger cohorts in part with an increased secularity in Western society, a secularity that may lead to a greater sense of loss of meaning.1

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1. Blazer DG. The Age of Melancholy. New York, Routledge, 2005.
2. Erikson E, Kivnick H. Vital Involvement in Old Age. London, Norton, 1986.
3. Koenig HG, McCullough M, Larson D. Handbook of Religion and Health. New York, Oxford University Press, 2001.
4. Springer M, Newman A, Weaver A, et al. Spirituality, depression, and loneliness among Jewish seniors residing in New York City. J Pastoral Care Counsel 2003;57:305–318.
5. Yalom I. Existential Psychotherapy. New York, Basic Books, 1980.