Anemia is associated with depression in older adults: results from the InCHIANTI study

J Gerontol A Biol Sci Med Sci. 2005 Sep;60(9):1168-72. doi: 10.1093/gerona/60.9.1168.


Background: Depression is a common disorder among older adults, and it has been associated with adverse outcomes, including increased risk of morbidity and mortality as well as incomplete or delayed recovery from illness and disability. The objective of this study was to examine whether depressive symptoms and anemia are associated among older adults living in the community.

Methods: We used data from the "Invecchiare in Chianti" (Aging in the Chianti area, InCHIANTI) study, a prospective population-based study of older people living in the community. Anemia was defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) criteria: hemoglobin concentration below 12 g/dl in women and below 13 g/dl in men. Depressive symptoms were measured by using the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). Participants with a CES-D score > or = 16 were considered to be depressed.

Results: Mean age of the 986 participants was 75 years, and 56% were female; 313 (32%) study participants were depressed. Anemia was recorded in 48 of the 313 (15%) participants with depression and in 53 of the 673 (8%) participants without depression (p <.001). After adjusting for potential confounders, depression was associated with a significant higher risk of anemia (odds ratio = 1.93; 95% confidence interval, 1.19-3.13). The risk of anemia progressively and significantly increased with increasing CES-D score (signifying more severe depression). Compared with nondepressed participants (CES-D score <16), the odds ratio for anemia were 1.74, 2.04, and 2.10 for participants with mild (score = 16-20), moderate (score = 21-26), and severe depression (score > 26), respectively (p for linear trend =.01).

Conclusions: Depressive symptoms are associated with anemia in a general population of older persons living in the community.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anemia / blood
  • Anemia / complications*
  • Anemia / epidemiology
  • Depression / complications*
  • Depression / epidemiology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Hemoglobins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Italy / epidemiology
  • Male
  • Prevalence
  • Prospective Studies
  • Urban Population


  • Hemoglobins