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Gender differences in depression among the very old

  • Ellinor Bergdahl (a1), Per Allard (a2), Lena Alex (a3), Berit Lundman (a3) and Yngve Gustafson (a1)...


Objectives: The aim of this study was to investigate factors associated with depression among men and women aged 85 and over.

Method: A population-based study was undertaken in northern Sweden. Out of 527 eligible participants, aged 85, 90 or ≥95, 363 were evaluated for depression. Data were collected from structured interviews, assessments and medical charts and from relatives and caregivers. Depression was screened for using the Geriatric Depression Scale-15 and further assessed using the Montgomerysberg Depression Rating Scale (MADRS).

Results A higher proportion of women were diagnosed with depression (33% vs. 18.6%, p = 0.006). In both men and women experienced loneliness (OR 3.4 vs. 7.0) and not going outside independently (OR 2.6 vs. 26.0) were associated with depression in the final regression model. Depression among men was also independently associated with loss of a child/children during the preceeding ten years (OR 30.0).

Conclusion: Depression was more common among women than among men. Experienced loneliness and not going outside independently seem to be closely related to depression in both men and women. Loss of a child seems to be the most important factor among men.


Corresponding author

Correspondence should be addressed to: Ellinor Bergdahl, Geriatric Medicine, Umeå University, SE-901 87 Umeå, Sweden. Phone: +46 90 785 87 27; Fax: +46 90 13 06 23. Email:


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