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On becoming depressed or anxious in late life: similar vulnerability factors but different effects of stressful life events

  • Edwin De Beurs (a1), Aartjan Beekman (a1), Sandra Geerlings (a1), Dorly Deeg (a1), Richard Van Dyck (a1) and Willem Van Tilburg (a1)...

Abstract

Background

Little research has been done on the uniqueness of risk profiles for depression and anxiety in late life.

Aims

Delineating risk factors for the decline of mental health in older persons, comparing risk profiles for developing symptoms of pure depression, pure anxiety and both anxiety and depression in a prospective design.

Method

Self-Report data on depression and anxiety were collected from community-dwelling older respondents (⩾55 years) on two occasions, 3 years apart. Data from emotionally healthy respondents (n=1810) were used to investigate the effects of long-standing vulnerability factors and stressful life events.

Results

After 3 years 9% of the subjects had scored beyond the thresholds for symptoms. Vulnerability for depression and anxiety was quite similar, but life events differed: onset of depression was predicted by death of a partner or other relatives; onset of anxiety was best predicted by having a partner who developed a major illness. No support for moderator effects between vulnerability factors and stress was found; the effects were purely additive.

Conclusions

Depression and anxiety have many risk factors in common, but specific risk factors also were found, especially in subjects developing both depression and anxiety.

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Copyright

Corresponding author

Edwin de Beurs, Leiden University Medical Center, PO Box 9600, 2300 RC Leiden, The Netherlands

Footnotes

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Declaration of interest

Funding detailed in Acknowledgements.

Footnotes

References

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On becoming depressed or anxious in late life: similar vulnerability factors but different effects of stressful life events

  • Edwin De Beurs (a1), Aartjan Beekman (a1), Sandra Geerlings (a1), Dorly Deeg (a1), Richard Van Dyck (a1) and Willem Van Tilburg (a1)...

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On becoming depressed or anxious in late life: similar vulnerability factors but different effects of stressful life events

  • Edwin De Beurs (a1), Aartjan Beekman (a1), Sandra Geerlings (a1), Dorly Deeg (a1), Richard Van Dyck (a1) and Willem Van Tilburg (a1)...
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