Living alone is associated with depression among the elderly in a rural community in Japan

Authors

  • Ryuta FUKUNAGA,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuropathobiology, Kumamoto University Graduate School of Medical Science
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  • Yasuhisa ABE,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuropathobiology, Kumamoto University Graduate School of Medical Science
    2. Yatsushiro Kousei Hospital
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  • Youichi NAKAGAWA,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuropathobiology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Kumamoto University
    2. Kumamoto Prefectural Government, Kumamoto, Japan
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  • Asuka KOYAMA,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuropathobiology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Kumamoto University
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  • Noboru FUJISE,

    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuropathobiology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Kumamoto University
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  • Manabu IKEDA

    Corresponding author
    1. Department of Psychiatry and Neuropathobiology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Kumamoto University
      Dr Manabu Ikeda MD PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Neuropathobiology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Kumamoto University, 1-1-1, Honjo, Kumamoto 860-8556, Japan. Email: mikeda@kumamoto-u.ac.jp
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Dr Manabu Ikeda MD PhD, Department of Psychiatry and Neuropathobiology, Faculty of Life Sciences, Kumamoto University, 1-1-1, Honjo, Kumamoto 860-8556, Japan. Email: mikeda@kumamoto-u.ac.jp

Abstract

Aim:  This study aimed to investigate factors associated with depression in a sample of elderly Japanese individuals in a rural community and to examine differences among factors associated with individuals living alone or living with others.

Methods:  Using a population-based sample from rural Japan, we assessed a total of 1552 participants aged 65 years or older by mailing a survey and evaluating responses based on the Geriatric Depression Scale. Factors associated with depression were also examined.

Results:  We received 964 valid responses. Depressed subjects comprised 20.5% of the sample. Living alone was significantly related to depression. In individuals living alone, depression was associated with loss of appetite, suicidal ideation, financial strain, and worries in life. However, multiple linear regression analyses revealed that the influence of living alone was negated by having a good social support system.

Conclusion:  These findings confirm that living alone is an important factor in depression among the elderly in a rural part of Japan. Results also confirm what others have found in Western cultures: high levels of social support, awareness of receiving social support, and willingness to receive assistance may reduce the risk of depression.

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