Author(s): Beekman AT, Copeland JR, Prince MJ
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Abstract BACKGROUND: Despite considerable interest, there is no consensus regarding the prevalence of depression in later life. AIMS: To assess the prevalence of late-life depression in the community. METHOD: A systematic review of community-based studies of the prevalence of depression in later life (55+). Literature was analysed by level of caseness at which depression was defined and measured. RESULTS: Thirty-four studies eligible for inclusion were found. The reported prevalence rates vary enormously (0.4-35\%). Arranged according to level of caseness, major depression is relatively rare among the elderly (weighted average prevalence 1.8\%), minor depression is more common (weighted average prevalence 9.8\%), while all depressive syndromes deemed clinically relevant yield an average prevalence of 13.5\%. There is consistent evidence for higher prevalence rates for women and among older people living under adverse socio-economic circumstances. CONCLUSIONS: Depression is common in later life. Methodological differences between studies preclude firm conclusions about cross-cultural and geographical variation. Improving the comparability of epidemiological research constitutes an important step forward.
This article was published in Br J Psychiatry
and referenced in Journal of Gerontology & Geriatric Research