Older Women More Likely to Suffer Depression

Older Women More Likely to Suffer Depression

Health Day
Tue Feb 5, 2008 11:46 PM ET

TUESDAY, Feb. 5 (HealthDay News) — Older women are more likely than
older men to become and remain depressed, Yale researchers report.

The study began in 1998 with 754 people aged 70 and older. The
participants were assessed at the start of the study, and again at five
18-month intervals after that.

During the study, 269 (35.7 percent) of the participants suffered
depression at some point. Of those, 48 (17.8 percent) were depressed at
two consecutive follow-up points, 30 (11.2 percent) at three consecutive
points, 17 (6.3 percent) at four consecutive points, and 12 (4.5 percent)
at all five follow-up points.

More women than men were depressed at each 18-month follow-up, and
women were more likely than men to be depressed at subsequent time points,
according to the study, which appears in the February issue of the
Archives of General Psychiatry.

"Adjusting for other demographic characteristics, women had a higher
likelihood of transitioning from non-depressed to depressed and a lower
likelihood of transitioning from depressed to non-depressed or death," the
study authors wrote.

The findings were consistent throughout the length of the study and
provide strong evidence that depression is more common in older women than
in older men, the researchers said. This is surprising, they added,
because women are more likely than men to receive treatment for

"Whether women are treated less aggressively than men for late-life
depression or are less likely to respond to conventional treatment is not
known, but should be the focus of future research," the authors wrote. "In
addition, nearly 40 percent of the depressed participants in this study
were depressed during at least two consecutive time points, highlighting
the need to initiate and potentially maintain antidepressant treatment
after resolution of the initial depressive episode."

More information

Mental Health America has more about depression.

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