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Depression is a heterogeneous disorder with multiple aetiological pathways and multiple therapeutic targets. This study aims to determine whether atypical depression (AD) characterized by reversed neurovegetative symptoms is associated with a more pernicious course and a different sociodemographic, lifestyle, and comorbidity profile than nonatypical depression (nonAD).
Among 157 366 adults who completed the UK Biobank Mental Health Questionnaire (MHQ), N = 37 434 (24%) met the DSM-5 criteria for probable lifetime major depressive disorder (MDD) based on the Composite International Diagnostic Interview Short Form. Participants reporting both hypersomnia and weight gain were classified as AD cases (N = 2305), and the others as nonAD cases (N = 35 129). Logistic regression analyses were conducted to examine differences between AD and nonAD in depression features, sociodemographic and lifestyle factors, lifetime adversities, psychiatric and physical comorbidities.
Persons with AD experienced an earlier age of depression onset, longer, more severe and recurrent episodes, and higher help-seeking rates than nonAD persons. AD was associated with female gender, unhealthy behaviours (smoking, social isolation, low physical activity), more lifetime deprivation and adversity, higher rates of comorbid psychiatric disorders, obesity, cardiovascular disease (CVD), and metabolic syndrome. Sensitivity analyses comparing AD persons with those having typical neurovegetative symptoms (hyposomnia and weight loss) revealed similar results.
These findings highlight the clinical and public health significance of AD as a chronic form of depression, associated with high comorbidity and lifetime adversity. Our findings have implications for predicting depression course and comorbidities, guiding research on aetiological mechanisms, planning service use and informing therapeutic approaches.
Cognitive impairment and depression often co-occur in older adults, but it is not clear whether depression is a risk factor for cognitive decline, a psychological reaction to cognitive decline, or whether changes in depressive symptoms correlate with changes in cognitive performance over time. The co-morbid manifestation of depression and cognitive impairment may reflect either a causal effect or a common cause, depending on the specific symptoms experienced and the cognitive functions affected.
The study sample comprised 1506 community-dwelling older adults aged ⩾65 years from the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA). We conducted cross-domain latent growth curve analyses to examine longitudinal associations between late-life depression dimensions (i.e. depressed affect, positive affect, and somatic symptoms) and specific domains of cognitive functioning (i.e. processing speed, inductive reasoning, immediate recall, and delayed recall).
Poorer delayed recall performance at baseline predicted a steeper increase in depressed affect over time. Steeper decline in processing speed correlated with a steeper increase in somatic symptoms of depression over time.
Our findings suggest a prospective association between memory function and depressed affect, whereby older adults may experience an increase in depressed affect in reaction to poor memory function. Somatic symptoms of depression increased concurrently with declining processing speed, which may reflect common neurodegenerative processes. Our findings do not support the hypothesis that depression symptoms may be a risk factor for cognitive decline in the general population. These findings have potential implications for the treatment of late-life depression and for the prognosis of cognitive outcomes.
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