Depression Treatment for Seniors

Did you know that depression is widely prevalent among seniors? Learn about treatment options for depression, including treatments that are covered by Medicare.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates anywhere from 1 percent to 5 percent of Americans age 65 and over are affected by depression.1

Depression treatment options can include therapy, medication, counseling and even hospitalization. Medicare covers some depression treatments for qualified beneficiaries, such as preventive screenings and psychotherapy.

This guide details different treatment options for seniors, including some that are covered by Medicare as well as some options that older adults can pursue for themselves.

Does Medicare cover depression?

Medicare Part B (medical insurance) covers one depression screening in full per year. The screening must take place in a primary care setting such as a doctor’s office, and you will typically pay nothing as long as your doctor accepts Medicare assignment.

If depression is detected, a number of inpatient and outpatient treatment options are covered by Medicare. Your treatment plan will depend largely on what type of depression you have and its severity.

Depression treatment services that can be covered by Medicare include:  

  • Care received in a general or psychiatric hospital while admitted as an inpatient for mental health treatment.

  • A partial hospitalization program for beneficiaries who require some inpatient treatment

  • Individual or group psychotherapy

  • Family counseling

  • Psychiatric evaluation

  • Medication management

  • Testing to see if you’re receiving the correct services and that those services are working

  • Diagnostic tests

Medicare Part B will provide coverage for certain prescription drugs that are not typically “self-administered.” An injection is an example of a covered drug that is not self-administered.

In order to receive coverage for self-administered drugs such as oral pills, you may want to consider enrolling in a Medicare Part D prescription drug plan or Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan.

Medicare Part D plans provide coverage exclusively for prescription drugs, while Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans provide all Original Medicare benefits and can also provide benefits not covered by Original Medicare (Medicare Part A and Part B).

Medicare Part D and certain Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plans can provide coverage for medications that are commonly prescribed to help treat depression.

Additional depression treatment options

There are some additional depression treatment options seniors can consider, though these options are not typically covered by Medicare.

  • Electroconvulsive therapy, or electroshock therapy, is typically used in cases of severe depression where the risk of suicide or harm to others is very high.

  • Transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) is often used to treat major depression in people who have already tried antidepressants. An electromagnetic coil is placed over the scalp and creates a magnetic field that stimulates the nerves in the prefrontal cortex, which is the area of the brain that controls mood.

  • Vagus nerve stimulation is a treatment used when most other options have failed. A device similar to a pacemaker is implanted into the chest with wires leading to the vagus nerve of the neck. The device sends regular electrical currents to the nerve, which is responsible for relaying information to the brain.

  • Exercise has been shown by research to fight depression and is a treatment option that comes free of cost and can even be made easier with the help of a Medicare Advantage plan that offers fitness club memberships.

    High-intensity exercise releases endorphins, which are the body’s positive chemicals responsible for what’s commonly called a “runner’s high.” Low-intensity exercise sustained over time releases neurotrophic proteins that promote growth in brain function and can make you generally feel better.

Physical health ailments can sometimes lead to depression, so exercise that improves the body physically can also help prevent related depression.

Learn more about how a Medicare Advantage Prescription Drug plan could help cover the costs of depression treatment options like prescription drug coverage, therapy and physical fitness organizations.

Compare plans today.

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This article is for informational purposes only. It is not healthcare advice. Speak to your doctor or healthcare provider about your specific healthcare needs.


About the author

Christian Worstell is a senior Medicare and health insurance writer with He is also a licensed health insurance agent. Christian is well-known in the insurance industry for the thousands of educational articles he’s written, helping Americans better understand their health insurance and Medicare coverage.

Christian’s work as a Medicare expert has appeared in several top-tier and trade news outlets including Forbes, MarketWatch, WebMD and Yahoo! Finance.

Christian has written hundreds of articles for that teach Medicare beneficiaries the best practices for navigating Medicare. His articles are read by thousands of older Americans each month. By better understanding their health care coverage, readers may hopefully learn how to limit their out-of-pocket Medicare spending and access quality medical care.

Christian’s passion for his role stems from his desire to make a difference in the senior community. He strongly believes that the more beneficiaries know about their Medicare coverage, the better their overall health and wellness is as a result.

A current resident of Raleigh, Christian is a graduate of Shippensburg University with a bachelor’s degree in journalism.

If you’re a member of the media looking to connect with Christian, please don’t hesitate to email our public relations team at

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1 CDC. (Sep. 14, 2022). Depression is Not a Normal Part of Growing Older.