Lifestyle regularity and activity level as protective factors against bereavement-related depression in late-life

Authors

  • Dr. Holly G. Prigerson Ph.D.,

    Corresponding author
    1. Mental Health Clinical Research Center for the Study of Late-Life Mood Disorders, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychlatrlc Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA
    • 3811 O'Hara Street, and Room 754 Belle field Towers, Pittsburgh, PA 15213
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  • Timothy H. Monk Ph.D.,

    1. Sleep and Chronobiology, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychlatrlc Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA
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  • Charles F. Reynolds III M.D.,

    1. Mental Health Clinical Research Center for the Study of Late-Life Mood Disorders, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychlatrlc Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA
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  • Amy Begley M.A.,

    1. Mental Health Clinical Research Center for the Study of Late-Life Mood Disorders, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychlatrlc Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA
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  • Patricia R. Houck M.H.S.,

    1. Mental Health Clinical Research Center for the Study of Late-Life Mood Disorders, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychlatrlc Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA
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  • Andrew J. Bierhals M.P.H.,

    1. Mental Health Clinical Research Center for the Study of Late-Life Mood Disorders, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychlatrlc Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA
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  • David J. Kupfer M.D.

    1. Sleep and Chronobiology, Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Western Psychlatrlc Institute and Clinic, Pittsburgh, PA
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Abstract

This study sought to determine whether high regularity in the timing of daily activities among the elderly soon after spousal death was protective against depressive symptomatology 1 and 2 years later, and the degree to which the depression-buffering effects of high lifestyle regularity were contingent upon the level of activity performed. The regularity of daily activities was assessed at 3 months post-loss among 41 spousally bereaved subjects aged 60 and above; depressive symptomatology was measured at 3, 12, and 24 months post-loss. Multiple regression analyses revealed that greater lifestyle regularity at 3 months post-loss predicted lower levels of depressive symptoms at 1 year post-loss among those in the upper-half level of activity. There was a trend, which suggested that greater lifestyle regularity at 3 months post-loss was associated with lower levels of depressive symptoms at 24 months post-loss among those in the upper-third level of activity. These preliminary results suggest that for aged widows and widowers, lifestyle regularity may prevent long-lasting depressive symptomatology secondary to spousal bereavement, provided an adequate number of activities are performed. Depression 3:297–302 (1995/1996). © 1996 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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