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Despite its negative consequences, little is known about the natural
history of depression in the oldest old.
To study the incidence, course and predictors of depression in the
general population of the oldest old.
The Leiden 85-plus Study is a prospective population-based study of 500
people from their 85th to their 89th birthdays. Depressive symptoms were
annually assessed with the 15-item Geriatric Depression Scale, using a
cut-off of 4 points.
During a mean follow-up of 3.9 years, the annual risk for the emergence
of depression was 6.8%. Poor daily functioning and institutionalisation
predicted depression. Among the 77 participants with depression at
baseline (prevalence 15%) the annual remission rate was ony 14%. In more
than half of the participants with a remission of depression, we observed
a relapse of depression during follow-up. No predictors of remission
could be identified.
Among the oldest old, depression is frequent and highly persistent. More
active case-finding and treatment would be potentially rewarding.
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