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September 1988

Depression in Elderly Hospitalized Patients With Medical Illness

Author Affiliations

From the Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development (Drs Koenig, Cohen, and Blazer) and Department of Psychiatry (Drs Meador and Blazer), Duke University Medical Center, Durham, NC; and Geriatric Research, Education, and Clinical Center, Veterans Administration Medical Center, Durham (Drs Koenig, Meador, and Cohen).

Arch Intern Med. 1988;148(9):1929-1936. doi:10.1001/archinte.1988.00380090031009

• Depressive symptoms and disorders were identified by structured psychiatric interview in 130 consecutively admitted male inpatients aged 70 years and over. Major depression was found in 11.5% and other depressive syndromes in 23%. While depressive symptoms and syndromes are common among the medically ill, this study demonstrated the need for careful diagnostic assessment of older patients with depressive symptoms before initiating treatment that may itself convey significant risk. Sociodemographic and health characteristics of older men at higher risk for depression were also identified. Patients more likely to be depressed were over age 75 years, had less formal education, experienced cognitive dysfunction, suffered from more severe medical illness (particularly recent myocardial infarction), and had a history of psychiatric illness. Depressive symptoms were also common among patients with renal or neurologic diseases, those having a family history of psychiatric illness, the unmarried, and the more severely disabled. Given the impact of depression on recovery from medical illness, compliance with medical therapy, and costs of extended hospital stays, detection and treatment of this disorder are imperative.

(Arch Intern Med 1988;148:1929-1936)