Objectives: Old age is a well-known risk factor for both depression and hypovitaminosis D, and an association between both conditions has been postulated. We document the prevalence of vitamin D deficiency in nursing home residents, and we examine the link with self-reported depressive symptoms and pharmacotherapy for depression.
Design: Cross- sectional.
Setting: nursing homes in Antwerp, Belgium.
Participants: Healthy elderly (n=589), with a mean age of 84 years.
Measurements: We detected depressive symptoms by means of SF-36, a validated quality of life assessment; we registered the use of antidepressants and anxiolytics, and we measured serum 25(OH)D concentrations in all participants.
Results: Almost our entire study population appeared to be vit D deficient. Comparison of the most severely and least deficient subgroups showed a consistent tendency towards more depressive symptoms and more use of antidepressants in the group with the lowest vit D level.
Conclusion: Nursing home residents are particularly vulnerable to preventable vit D deficiency. The relevance of the association with depressive symptoms and the possibilities for treatment are critically reviewed in the discussion.