Epidemiology of depression in the elderly

Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 1998 Sep:13 Suppl 5:S7-12. doi: 10.1097/00004850-199809005-00003.


Epidemiologic results of studies of depression in the elderly are reviewed in this paper. There are discrepancies from one study to another as regards prevalence rates in the community. In fact, different methods of assessment as well as different periods frame may explain these variations. The use of diagnostic interviews commonly used in younger populations have been questioned in the elderly mostly due to cognitive problems. Other methods of assessment are briefly reviewed. In clinical settings most of the studies have assessed depressive symptoms. As regards risk factors female sex, widowhood or single life, stressful life events and poor social support have been found as risk factors for depression. The role of physical illness and handicap must also be taken into account. The magnitude of the increasing duration of life justify more epidemiological studies of depression to be conducted in the elderly population.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Depressive Disorder / epidemiology*
  • Depressive Disorder / psychology
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Prevalence
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Risk Factors
  • United States / epidemiology