Is dynapenia associated with the onset and persistence of depressive and anxiety symptoms among older adults? Findings from the Irish longitudinal study on ageing

Aging Ment Health. 2021 Mar;25(3):468-475. doi: 10.1080/13607863.2019.1699021. Epub 2019 Dec 12.


Objectives: The aim of the current study was to assess the associations between dynapenia and the onset and persistence of depression and anxiety among older adults.

Methods: This prospective cohort study enrolled community-living older adults (N = 5271; 51.1% females) aged ≥ 50 years (mean age = 63.2, standard deviation = 9.0) from The Irish Longitudinal Study on Aging (TILDA), Ireland. At baseline, participants completed a handgrip assessment. Depression was defined by a score ≥ 16 in the Center of Epidemiology Studies Depression (CES-D) tool and anxiety was considered when participants scored ≥ 8 on the anxiety section of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Outcomes were incident and persistent depression and anxiety at two years follow-up. Multivariable logistic regression models were built for each outcome.

Results: After controlling for age, sex, education, marital status, employment status, smoking, body mass index, number of chronic conditions, physical activity, and cognitive function, low handgrip strength indicative of dyapenia (< 30 Kg for men and < 20 Kg for women) was associated with a greater likelihood for incident depressive (OR = 1.44; 95%CI: 1.08-1.92) as well as for persistent depressive (OR = 1.61; 95% CI: 1.01-2.58) and anxiety (OR = 1.61; 95% CI: 1.20-2.14) symptoms.

Conclusions: Dynapenia was associated with a higher odds of developing depressive symptoms as well as a greater likelihood to persistent depressive and anxiety symptoms among older adults. Our data suggest that interventions targeting muscle strength may prevent the onset of late-life depression and also may hold promise as novel therapeutic opportunities for depression and anxiety in later life.

Keywords: Elderly; anxiety; depression; handgrip strength; prospective; psychiatry; sarcopenia.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Anxiety / epidemiology
  • Depression* / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Hand Strength*
  • Humans
  • Ireland / epidemiology
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Prospective Studies