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Targeting Negative Emotions Reduces Depression Severity in OAs

November 07, 2019

Addressing negative emotions early on appears to benefit older adults with major depressive disorder, cognitive impairment, and suicidal ideation, according to a study published online in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. 

Our main findings highlight that negative emotions need to be targeted early in psychotherapy to accelerate the reduction of nonemotional symptoms, and therefore, contribute to the reduction of depression,” wrote researchers from the Weill-Cornell Institute of Geriatric Psychiatry, Weill Cornell Medicine. 

The study included 26 suicidal older adults with major depressive disorder and varying degrees of cognitive impairment who were treated with one of two psychotherapy interventions in the outpatient department of New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medicine. The researchers assessed negative emotions, nonemotional symptoms of depression such as vegetative and physical symptoms, and suicidal ideation at baseline and every 4 weeks afterward through week 12 using the 24-item Hamilton Depression Rating Scale. 

Throughout the 12 weeks of the study, a reduction in negative emotions was significantly associated with a reduction in nonemotional symptoms of depression as well as with a reduction in overall depression severity, researchers reported. 

“The findings,” they advised, “can guide the treatment of older patients with depression and suicidal ideation to reduce depression and improve suicide risk.” 

Jolynn Tumolo


Arslanoglou E, Banerjee S, Pantelides J, Evans L, Kiosses DN. Negative emotions and the course of depression during psychotherapy in suicidal older adults with depression and cognitive impairment [published online ahead of print August 26, 2019]. Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. doi: 10.1016/j.jagp.2019.08.018

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