The Variability of Depression in Old Age

Narrative as an Integrative Construct
  • Keith G. Meador
  • Dan G. Blazer
Part of the The Springer Series in Adult Development and Aging book series (SSAD)


Although there have been attempts throughout the ages to understand, describe, and treat depression (Jackson, 1986), the word depression continues to be used variably according to context and the predisposing biases of the speaker. Our discussion in this chapter embodies a fluid understanding of depression. Inherent to our constructive position is an appreciation for the heterogeneity of depressive disorders in the elderly. While acknowledging the considerable strides made during the last 20 years in delineating major depression using the categorical methods of the third edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III; American Psychiatric Association, 1980) and subsequent editions of the DSM, we suggest limits to that framework for the optimal understanding of the vicissitudes of depression in old age. We propose that an optimal understanding of depression in general, but particularly in the elderly, requires a biopsychosocial formulation that is derived and interpreted in the context of a particular, contextually and historically contingent, narrative.


Depressive Symptom Late Life Mental Health Practitioner Subsequent Edition Hopelessness Depression 
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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Keith G. Meador
    • 1
  • Dan G. Blazer
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Medicine and Divinity SchoolDuke UniversityDurhamUSA

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