Objective: Depression, one of the most prevalent psychiatric disorders, causes disability and reduces quality of life. Rates of clinical depression in community samples of older adults range between 1–16%. Most studies of old age depression have been conducted in developed countries. The present study was conducted to determine the prevalence of depressive disorders among Turkish elderly in an urban community.
Method: This study was carried out in the Kadiköy district of Istanbul. The sample for the cross-sectional part of the study was 1067 individuals age 70 or older, randomly selected from population registries. Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS), Mini-mental State Examination (MMSE) scores and demographic data were obtained by face-to-face home interviews. The data were analyzed using regression analysis for each variable.
Results: The study group consisted of 623 (61%) females and 395 (39%) males. The mean age was 74.8 years, with 63% of subjects aged 70–74, 29% between 75–84 years old and 8% aged 85 and above. Sixteen percent (n=163) of the total group scored 14 or higher on the GDS. Only 9% of the depressed group were on antidepressant medication. Logistic regression analysis indicated that significant predictors for higher scores GDS scores were: illiteracy, aged 75–79 yrs, female sex and having 4 or more children.
Conclusion: Depression is a common but unrecognized and thus untreated problem among the elderly population in Turkey. While gender and age are unmodifiable, education level and multiparity can be altered. Education of caregivers and medical staff about old age depression may increase its rate of detection and facilitate improved treatment.