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Lifetime romantic attachment style and social adaptation in late-onset depression


Sergio Paradiso, MD, PhD, College of Medicine, University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine, Iowa City, IA, USA. E-mail:



Measuring social adjustment (including attachment style and current social adaptation) in late-life depression may support planning secondary prevention, rehabilitation, and treatment. Insecure attachment style is a risk factor for developing new depression, and social adjustment may constitute a problem after symptoms abatement. Few studies have examined attachment style and social adjustment in late-onset depression.


Subjects 50 years of age and older with early-onset (n = 35), late-onset DSM-IV unipolar depression (n = 38), and never-depressed volunteers (n = 47) were assessed with a widely used measure of attachment style (the Experiences in Close Relationship Scale). Social adjustment was measured using the Social Adjustment Scale.


Both early-onset and late-onset patients with depression showed greater insecure attachment and poorer social adaptation compared with never-depressed volunteers. No difference was found between early-onset and late-onset patients with depression on attachment style or social adjustment. There were no significant differences between late-life depression in remission or current on attachment or social adaptation.


Insecure attachment style may be a risk factor for late-life depression irrespective of the age of onset. Social maladaptation may persist among individuals with late-life depression in remission. Copyright © 2011 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.

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