Depression in holocaust survivors: profile and treatment outcome in a geriatric day hospital program

D K Conn, D Clarke, R Van Reekum
International Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry 2000, 15 (4): 331-7
The profile of depressive symptoms and the outcome of treatment in Holocaust Survivors (HS) versus non-Holocaust Survivors (NS), attending a Psychiatric Day Hospital Program for depression, were evaluated retrospectively using a clinical database. Approximately 24% of the study population were Holocaust Survivors (HS). The HS group was more likely to receive a diagnosis of major depressive disorder or episode as one of their diagnoses. The HS group, in particular those survivors who had been in ghettos or in concentration camps, were more likely to be given a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder. Both groups showed improvement from baseline in their ratings of depression on the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS) and Geriatric Depression Scale at the time of discharge (p<0.001). However, there were no significant differences between the groups in terms of their ratings of depression either at admission, at discharge or in their degree of improvement. Likewise, there was no significant difference between the groups in the profile of their depression, as per the sub-scales of the HDRS, with the exception that the HS group displayed more 'insight' than the NS group (p=0.002). The NS group scored higher on the Mattis Dementia Rating Scale compared to the HS group (119.1 versus 125.4, p<0.001), even when level of education was covaried; however, language may be an important confound. In conclusion, there was no significant difference in the profile or outcome of depression between groups. However, the HS group was more likely to receive a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder, displayed more 'insight', and appear to differ in their cognitive profile.

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