Research shows that most of the variance in depression severity levels in late life can be explained by the unmet psychological needs of patients, more in particular the care needs of patients related with psychological distress. This case report describes the treatment of an 84-year-old patient suffering from depression. Her complaints faded upon the use of nursing interventions that were defined on the basis of a systematic assessment of her care needs with the Camberwell Assessment of Needs for the Elderly. The methodical attention to her needs for care and the interventions carried out led to the patient feeling acknowledged and to a diminished need for care and a better quality of life. Although there is no scientific evidence to date, a systematic assessment of care needs may well be a meaningful addition to the nursing diagnostic process. Moreover, alleviating distress in patients by fulfilling unmet care needs through tailored interventions can be seen as an essential element of an effective multidisciplinary depression treatment process. © 2011 Blackwell Publishing.