Promote Wellness

Sadness is a natural part of life, but depression does not have to be a natural part of aging. Medical studies have already shown that exercise and slow movements such as yoga and Tai Chi can help to reduce depression in seniors and improve their quality of life. To find the best ways to prevent and treat depression, researchers at UCLA are requesting participants for additional medical studies. For people who do not qualify for medical studies, they are providing resources to reduce depression.

“Many seniors and their caregivers are faced with lots of stress, including economic downturns and multiple medical conditions. They can’t always afford expensive medical treatments,” said Helen Lavretsky, MD, professor at UCLA who specializes in geriatric psychiatry and mind-body intervention. “I want to use everything available to promote wellness in seniors and their caregivers.”

Director: 
Helen Lavretsky

Inexpensive treatment option

Seniors practising Tai Chi on the beachTai-Chi is known to improve balance, sleep, and a sense of wellbeing in older adults. Yoga and other types of mind-body exercises have been shown to improve brain activity, blood pressure and breathing.

More than Drugs

There’s a big need for research. Depression in seniors is attributed to increased illnesses, suffering, disability and a high suicide rate. Often drugs are prescribed, but drugs alone don’t always work. Only about 30 percent of older depressed patients fully respond to a single antidepressant drug; 30 percent have a partial response; and 30 percent don’t respond at all.

The Late-life Depression, stress, and wellness program at UCLA provides state-of-the-art stress, mood, cognitive, genetic, and brain scanning assessments, and opportunities to volunteer for clinical studies including antidepressant and mind-body interventions (Tai-Chi, yoga, and meditation).