Background. Vascular depression is regarded as a subtype of depression, especially in, but not entirely restricted to, the elderly, characterized by a specific clinical presentation and an association with (cerebro)vascular risk and disease. It could have major implications for treatment if subjects at risk for such a depression could be easily identified by their clinical presentation in general practice.
Method. We studied the symptom profile of depression in subjects with and without vascular risk factors in two large Dutch community-based studies, the Rotterdam Study and the Amsterdam Study of the Elderly (AMSTEL).
Results. We could not confirm the specific symptom profile in depressed subjects with vascular risk factors in either of the two cohorts. Depressed subjects with vascular risk factors showed more loss of energy and more physical disability than those without vascular risk factors. However, presumed specific symptoms of vascular depression, namely psychomotor retardation and anhedonia, were not significantly associated with any of the vascular risk indicators. Loss of energy was significantly associated with myocardial infarction and peripheral arterial disease.
Conclusions. In these two large community-based studies we identified some differences between vascular and non-vascular depressed subjects but found no evidence for a specific symptom profile of vascular depression as previously defined.