Free counseling for seniors available as part of depression study

By Eve Harris

UCSF is offering 12 weeks of free individual counseling as part of a study on depression to adults 60 years and older who are feeling down, depressed, stressed, or who want help coping with medical, physical, or family problems.

People eligible for the study will be those who also have difficulty making decisions, or who have trouble starting, planning and following through on daily activities, which may signal cognitive impairment.

To date, medication has not been effective in treating this combination of depression and cognitive impairment.  For this reason, the COPE-D study (Collaborative Psychotherapy for the Elderly with Depression) will compare two talk therapies, Problem Solving Therapy and Supportive Therapy, to determine which is more successful at alleviating this combination of symptoms. Both have shown evidence of being effective therapies.

“We’re pleased to offer free care to elder San Franciscans who feel sad, lonely and who might have trouble managing day-to-day activities,” said Patricia Areán, Ph.D., UCSF associate professor of psychiatry, and one of the principal investigators of the study.

The program provides a free mental health and neuropsychological evaluation, free treatment for depression and free consultation with a geriatric psychiatrist, if needed. Those who complete therapy and participate in the study will also be paid a stipend. Those who don’t end up participating in the study will be referred to other free and affordable services.

The study is funded by the National Institute of Mental Health. For more information, call the UCSF Over 60 Program at 415-476-7439.