A new study reveals that people get more depressed from age 65 onwards. The University of Bradford study, led by psychology lecturer Dr Helena Chui, builds on a 15-year project observing over 2,000 older Australians living in the Adelaide area.
Previous studies have shown an increase in depressive symptoms with age but only until the age of 85. This is the first study to examine the issue beyond that age. Both men and women taking part in the study reported increasingly more depressive symptoms as they aged, with women initially starting with more depressive symptoms than men.
‘Physical impairment, the onset of medical condition and the approach of death increases more depressive symptoms in adults over the age 65.’
However, men showed a faster rate of increase in symptoms so that the difference in the genders was reversed at around the age of 80.
The key factors in these increases include levels of physical impairment, the onset of medical conditions, particularly chronic ones and the approach of death. Half of those in the study suffered with arthritis and both men and women with the chronic condition reported more depressive symptoms than those without.
Chui said that social policies and aging-friendly support structures, such as the provision of public transport and access to health care services are needed to target the 'oldest-old' adults as a whole.
The study is published in the International Journal Psychology and Aging.