Prevalence and correlates of depression in late life: a population based study from a rural Greek town

Authors


Abstract

Background

Depression in late life is common and has serious consequences on function, medical co-morbidity, quality of life, and use of medical services.

Objective

To estimate the age- and gender-specific prevalence of depression among people over 60 years of age, and to examine correlates of depression, in particular the relationship between depression and cognitive impairment.

Method

From a total of 965 inhabitants, aged over 60 years, in Velestino, a rural town in central Greece, 608 were accessible and constituted the target population. During a five-month period in 2000, a trained health visitor interviewed all study participants. The interview covered socio-demographic characteristics, medical history, and administration of the 15-question Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15) and the Mini Mental Scale Examination instrument (MMSE).

Results

The prevalence of mild or more severe depression (GDS≥7) was 27%, while the prevalence of moderate to severe depression (GDS≥11) was 12%. Increasing age, female gender, lower education, and being currently unmarried were associated with higher risk of depression in univariate regression models, but these associations disappeared after controlling for cognitive function, except for the association with marital status. Cognitive impairment was strongly associated with increased risk for depression. The co-morbid presence of digestive, neurological and heart conditions was also associated with increased risk for depression, while cancer was not.

Conclusion

In a rural Greek area, the prevalence of depression in late life is high. Depression was more common among unmarried individuals, those with significant cognitive impairment, and in association with specific medical conditions. Copyright © 2005 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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