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Review: major depression affects about 7% of adults aged 75 and above

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Question: How prevalent is depression in those aged 75 and above?

Outcomes: Major depression; minor depression; depressive disorders (defined as clinically significant depressive symptoms using depressive symptom rating scales).


Design: Systematic review and meta-analysis.

Data sources: MEDLINE, Web of Science, Cochrane Library and PsycInfo were searched for studies from January 1999 to May 2010. Bibliographies of identified articles were hand searched. The search terms used were depression or depressive disorder, prevalence or epidemiology and old age or elderly . Only English and German language articles were included.

Study selection and analysis: Population-based studies with a sample size >700 which included individuals aged 75 years or above, and assessed prevalence rates of depression were included. Studies included were sorted into ‘categorical diagnostics’ studies and ‘dimensional diagnostics’ studies. The former used classification systems such as Diagnositic Statisical Manual (DSM), International Classification of Diseases (ICD) or Automated Geriatric Examination for Computer Assisted Taxonomy (AGECAT) for diagnosing depressive disorders, and the latter used depressive symptom rating scales for diagnosing clinically significant depressive symptoms. Two authors independently assessed the quality of studies using a modified version of …

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  • Sources of funding German Federal Ministry of Education and Research.


  • Competing interests None.