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Late-Onset Depression in Elderly Subjects From the Vienna Transdanube Aging (VITA) Study

J Clin Psychiatry 2009;70(4):500-508
10.4088/JCP.08m04265

Objective: To assess whether prevalence of depression increases with age. To determine possible risk factors of late-onset depression.

Method: The Vienna Transdanube Aging (VITA) study is a community-based cohort study investigating every inhabitant of the area on the left shore of the river Danube, in Vienna, Austria, born between May 1925 and June 1926. It includes a thorough neurologic, psychiatric, and neuropsychological battery. Occurrence of a current depressive episode was diagnosed according to a DSM-IV-based questionnaire, the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, and the Short Geriatric Depression Scale. A gerontopsychiatric life events scale was used for the assessment of life events. 1505 subjects were contacted and 606 participated. At baseline, 406 nondemented and never-depressed individuals were included in the study. Follow-up after 30 months was possible in 331 of the 406 participants. Baseline data were collected from May 2000 to December 2002, and 30-month follow-up data were collected from November 2002 to September 2005.

Results: Of the 331 participants who were not depressed at baseline, 31.4% had developed a subsyndromal, minor, or major depressive episode at the 30-month follow-up; 14.2% were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment at follow-up, 42.5% of whom were also diagnosed with new-onset depression. In the multiple analyses, "troubles with relatives" was a significant variable (p =.018, OR = 0.5, 95% CI = 0.28 to 0.89, R2 = 0.16). Summative scores on the Fuld Object Memory Evaluation showed a significant influence (p =.048, OR = 0.9, 95% CI = 0.88 to 0.99, R2 = 0.01) on the occurrence of newly onset depression. None of the other investigated possible risk factors had a significant influence on the new occurrence of depression.

Conclusion: Prevalence of late-onset depression increases with age. Having severe troubles with relatives and pre-existing cognitive impairments may enhance the probability of developing a late-onset depression.