Depressive Symptoms Increase Past Age 65

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As people grow older, they may be more likely to develop symptoms of depression.

Helena Chui, PhD, of the University of Bradford, England, and colleagues took part in a 15-year project that observed more than 2,000 older Australians. Although prior studies have looked at depressive symptoms with age, the new study is the first to examine depression above age 85.

Although women initially reported more depressive symptoms than men, men had a faster increase in symptoms at an older age, so much so that the difference between the genders was reversed at age 80, the researchers reported in the journal Psychology and Aging.

New medical conditions, especially chronic ones, and the approach of death factored into the rising depression rate. In addition, quality of life is a major contributor to depression in the elderly population as about 50% of study participants suffered from arthritis. Those without arthritis were far less likely to report depressive symptoms.

“It’s the first study to tell us depressive symptoms continue to increase throughout old age,” Chui said in a statement. “It seems that we need to look carefully at the provision of adequate services to match these needs, particularly in the area of mental health support and pain management.”

Depression Common in Final Year of Life
New medical conditions, especially chronic ones, and the approach of death factored into the rising depression rate.

New research challenges the notion that older people are happier than younger people. In the study, Australian researcher Dr. Helena Chui found people get more depressed from age 65 onwards.

The findings by Chui, a lecturer at the University of Bradford, have been published in the international journal Psychology and Aging. Chui's conclusions build on a 15-year project observing over 2,000 older Australians living in the Adelaide area.

Previous studies have shown an increase in depressive symptoms with age but only until the age of 85. This is the first study to examine the issue beyond that age.

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