Prevalence and predictors of depression in populations of elderly: a review

Acta Psychiatr Scand. 2006 May;113(5):372-87. doi: 10.1111/j.1600-0447.2006.00770.x.


Objective: To offer an update on prevalence and predictors of old age depression in populations of elderly Caucasians.

Method: The databases MEDLINE and Psychinfo were searched and relevant literature from 1993 onwards was reviewed.

Results: The prevalence of major depression ranges from 0.9% to 9.4% in private households, from 14% to 42% in institutional living, and from 1% to 16% among elderly living in private households or in institutions; and clinically relevant depressive symptom 'cases' in similar settings vary between 7.2% and 49%. The main predictors of depressive disorders and depressive symptom cases are: female gender, somatic illness, cognitive impairment, functional impairment, lack or loss of close social contacts, and a history of depression.

Conclusion: Depression is frequent in populations of elderly. Methodological differences between the studies hinder consistent conclusions about geographical and cross-cultural variations in prevalence and predictors of depression. Improved comparability will provide a basis for consistent conclusions.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Depressive Disorder / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders
  • Female
  • Humans
  • International Classification of Diseases
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors