a1 Department of Public Health and Primary Care, Cambridge University, UK
a2 MRC Biostatistics Unit, Cambridge University, UK
a3 Department of Psychiatry, Cambridge University, UK
a4 Section of Epidemiology, Institute of Psychiatry, King's College London, UK
Background Depression in old age is an important public health problem. The aims of this study were to report the prevalence of depression in the Medical Research Council Cognitive Function and Ageing Study (MRC CFAS), a community-based, cohort.
Method Following screening of 13 004 people aged 65 and over from a population base, a stratified random subsample of 2640 participants received the Geriatric Mental State (GMS) examination and were diagnosed using the Automated Geriatric Examination for Computer-Assisted Taxonomy (AGECAT) algorithm.
Results The prevalence of depression was 8·7% [95% confidence interval (CI) 7·3–10·2], increasing to 9·7% if subjects with concurrent dementia were included. Depression was more common in women (10·4%) than men (6·5%) and was associated with functional disability, co-morbid medical disorder, and social deprivation. Prevalence remained high into old age, but after adjustment for other associated factors, it was lower in the older age groups.
Conclusions The prevalence of depression in the elderly is high and remains high into old age, perhaps due to increased functional disability.
(Online publication April 04 2007)