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Depressive symptoms in elderly patients after a somatic illness event: prevalence, persistence, and risk factors

Depressive symptoms in elderly patients after a somatic illness event: prevalence, persistence, and risk factors

Psychosomatics 47(1): 33-42

Elderly patients with somatic illness are at increased risk of depression. The authors studied the prevalence and persistence of depressive symptoms during the first year after the events of myocardial infarction, congestive heart failure, fall-related injury, and the diagnosis of cancer and their putative pre-event risk factors. The GLAS study contains data from 614 patients who experienced post-baseline myocardial infarction, cancer, heart failure, or fall-related injury of the extremities within 5 years after the baseline assessment. Follow-up was conducted 8 weeks, 6 months, and 1 year after the somatic event. The authors studied the relative importance of 21 baseline risk factors for experiencing significant depressive symptoms during follow-up and the persistence of depression. Depressive symptoms were prevalent in 38.3% of the subjects during the post-event year; in about 19.1%, symptoms were mild. For a majority of patients (67.5%), symptoms persisted until the next assessment. Significant pre-event risk factors were depressive symptoms at baseline, age, smoking, poor general health, poor well-being, and neuroticism. Within the depressed group, only neuroticism was related to the persistence of symptoms. Neuroticism increases the risk of experiencing post-event depressive symptoms and is related to their persistence, which suggests the existence of a depression-prone personality.

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Accession: 048736618

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PMID: 16384805

DOI: 10.1176/appi.psy.47.1.33

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