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Perspectives on the process of recovery from depression by older adult clients : a grounded theory study Unsworth, Elaine

Abstract

Depression in the older adult remains a serious public health concern. An understanding of the process of recovery from depression from the older adults' perspective will assist care providers to plan strategies for the most effective treatment of depression. With effective treatment we would expect to see a lower suicide rate and lower demand for unnecessary resources which will both contribute to improve the quality of life for older adults. The purpose of this grounded theory study was to describe the process of recovery through the experience of depression from the perspective of older adults who were considered to have recovered from their depression. Open-ended interviews were conducted with seven older adults who had recovered from depression. Analysis of the interviews involved identification of a process of recovery that consisted of four phases: 1) Spiraling Down, 2) Changing Direction, 3) Working the Way Out, and 4) Staying Out. Older adults who had recovered from depression described a general sequential process while going through the phases. If a recurrence or relapse occurred, the same four phases were experienced again. A preliminary substantive theory of the process of recovery emerged from the findings. Triggers were experienced which led to increasing feelings of discomfort and distress. Older adults relied on their own strength as well as supports from others as they worked to implement strategies to achieve recovery. The process described in this study provides a beginning understanding of the experience of older adults as they recovery from depression. The findings of this study will help nurses and other health care professionals in providing care to older adults recovering from depression.

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