Late life depression: a comparison of risk factors and symptoms according to age of onset in community dwelling older adults
Gallagher D1, Mhaolain AN, Greene E, Walsh C, Denihan A, Bruce I, Golden J, Conroy RM, Kirby M, Lawlor BA.
It has been reported that late onset depression is more frequently associated with acquired organic pathology and that patients are less likely to report a family history of depression. Differences in phenomenology according to age of onset have been described although these have not been consistently replicated. The majority of these studies have been in hospital populations. The aim of this study is to address this question in a sample of community dwelling older adults.
89 subjects with GMS-AGECAT depression were identified from a sample of 1231 community dwelling adults aged 65 years and over. Subjects were analysed across a range of aetiological and phenomenological variables according to age of onset of first depressive episode.
Subjects with late onset depression (≥ 60) were significantly less likely to report a family history of depression, were less likely to report previous hospitalisation for depression and had greater cognitive impairment. Late onset subjects were also less likely to report feelings of guilt or thoughts that life was not worth living in the previous month.
While we found that patients with late onset depression differed from early onset patients according to certain aetiological risk factors, we did not find a distinctive profile of depressive symptomatology which might be considered clinically useful at an individual level. These findings are consistent with studies based in hospital populations.
Published: Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2010 Oct;25(10):981-7.