Epidemiological studies have shown that the prevalence rates of major depression and anxiety are lower in the elderly than in younger adults. In a recent survey, we found, among immigrants, that the association of age with psychological distress was the reverse.
The objective of the present study was to examine, among immigrants, whether the relationship of age with clinically diagnosed depression and anxiety disorders is also reversed. This was done by assessing the age-specific incidence and prevalence of depression and anxiety among immigrants from the former Soviet Union to Israel five years after their immigration.
A stratified subsample was chosen from a larger random sample of immigrants from the Former Soviet Union who arrived in Israel in 1990. We selected the subsample to include an over-representation of those with a high level of distress in order to increase the probability of finding people suffering from psychopathology. The subjects were interviewed with a diagnostic instrument, the CIDI-S, an abbreviated version of the CIDI. Prevalence and incidence rates of depression and anxiety were calculated separately for two age groups (those below age 65 and those aged 65 and above).
Before immigration, incidence rates were lower among the elderly than among younger adults, a finding consistent with the literature. However, after immigration, the reverse was found, with higher prevalence and incidence rates among elderly immigrants.
The data suggest that immigration contributes to an increase of psychopathology which is particularly pronounced among the elderly. Copyright © 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Ltd.