Depression a Risk for Death in Elderly
(Ivanhoe Newswire) -- Depression and its symptoms have been shown to accelerate death in many people, but previous research has not looked at the elderly in particular. A new study focuses on depression in elderly people living in the community and not in assisted-living facilities or nursing homes.
The study, from researchers at the University of California, San Francisco, involved 250 participants in a community health program. At the start of the study, researchers determined the presence of depression and then did so again at 18 months. At the beginning, 29 percent of the people had depression. Among those individuals, 26 percent died during the follow-up period compared with 17 percent of those with some lesser signs of depression.
The study authors write, "After adjusting for various demographic factors, 18-month mortality was almost 70 percent higher in those depressive symptoms than in those with fewer symptoms." Women were affected more than men. Depressed men were not at increased risk of mortality compared with men with some symptoms of depression.
One of the strengths of this study is that it involves people living in the community and not in a nursing home environment. They deal with different problems. The researchers write, "They [living in community] may be socially isolated and lack the assistance needed to access health care." The authors say nearly 80 percent of depressed elderly patients respond to treatment, therefore this is a topic that needs to be addressed by physicians.
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SOURCE: American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry, 2003;11:561-567