Objective: The purposes of this study were to examine the differences in influence of various chronic diseases on depressive symptomatology over time and to determine whether there were differences in such influence depending on physical limitations and time of onset of disease.
Study design and setting: Data for this study were obtained from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam. Two thousand two hundred eighty-eight respondents (age 55-85) were included and followed for a maximum of 6 years. Depressive symptoms (using the CES-D scale), the presence of seven frequently occurring chronic diseases, physical limitations, and sociodemographic variables were assessed by structured interviews. Generalized estimating equation models were estimated for each disease and compared with each other.
Results: Lung disease, arthritis, cardiac disease, and cancer were all positively associated with increased depressive symptoms over time. Stroke was associated with depressive symptoms, but these associations were not found when adjusted for physical limitations. For atherosclerosis and diabetes mellitus only weak or no associations with depressive symptoms were found. Recent onset of disease resulted in less strong associations for in cancer, lung disease, and arthritis.
Conclusion: The results demonstrate that the level of depressive symptoms varies across type of chronic disease. In cardiac disease, arthritis, cancer, and lung disease increased depressive symptoms could not be attributed to physical limitations, but in stroke the association found with depressive symptoms was to a large extent attributable to physical limitations.