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The European Journal of Psychiatry

Print version ISSN 0213-6163


CAMARA, Concepción de la et al. Depression in the elderly community: I. Prevalence by different diagnostic criteria and clinical profile. Eur. J. Psychiat. [online]. 2008, vol.22, n.3, pp.131-140. ISSN 0213-6163.

Background and Objectives: Depression is one of the most intriguing disorders in the elderly. We conjecture that prevalence of depression in the community vary according to the diagnostic criteria used. Furthermore, we anticipate that important proportions of depression go untreated or inadequately treated in a Southern European city. Metodology: This report is part of the Zaragoza Study (or ZARADEMP 0), an epidemiological project to document psychiatric morbidity in a representative sample of the elderly. A two - phase design was completed in a sample of n= 1080 elderly (65+ years). Standardized instruments were used, and the Geratric Mental State (GMS) was the main instrument. Cases of depression were diagnosed with three different sets of diagnostic criteria: AGECAT syndrome, AGECAT diagnosis and DSM - IV criteria. Descriptive statistics were used. Results: In support of the working hypothesis, the prevalence of depression tended to be lower when stringent diagnostic criteria were used. It was 7.0 % with AGECAT syndrome, 5.7% with AGECAT diagnosis among the cases, 4.8% with DSM - IV criteria. Anxiety, co - morbid syndromes were frequent among the cases (45.5%) and 18.2% of them had co - morbid AGECAT organic syndromes. Differential psychopathological profiles are observed between cases of major and minor depression. Undertreament or inadequate treatment was very frequent, and only 54.5% of major depression cases were on antidepressants. Conclusions: The prevalence of depression in the elderly varies according to diagnostic criteria used, and does not increase with age. Co-morbid anxiety and "organic" syndromes are common, and only half the major depressive cases were on antidepressants.

Keywords : Depression; Elderly; Prevalence; Psychopathology; Epidemiology.

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