Depressive Symptoms and Physical Decline in Community-Dwelling Older Persons

Conclusions.—This study provides evidence that older persons who report depressive symptoms are at higher risk of subsequent physical decline

Brenda W. J. H. Penninx

2003

Scholarcy highlights

  • Context.—Significant symptoms of depression are common in the older community-dwelling population
  • Participants.—A total of 1286 persons aged 71 years and older who completed a short battery of physical performance tests in 1988 and again 4 years later
  • Main Outcome Measures.—Baseline depressive symptoms were assessed by the Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale
  • Conclusions.—This study provides evidence that older persons who report depressive symptoms are at higher risk of subsequent physical decline
  • By using a battery of physical performance tests that covers the entire spectrum of physical functioning, we demonstrate that the effect of depressive symptoms is not limited to physical disability, but that depressive symptoms predict physical decline outside the disabled range
  • Score and having a depressed mood significantly decreased the odds of being among those who had improved
  • Since performance-based measures have been shown to be less biased by mood, cognition, and personality aspects than by self-reports of physical disability, our findings provide additional, more compelling evidence for a link between depressive symptoms and subsequent physical decline
  • Even outside the disabled range, a higher level of depressive symptoms increases the risk for subsequent decline in physical performance

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