DOI: 10.1055/s-0043-119417
Original Paper
© Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart · New York

What Characterizes Depression in Old Age? Results from the Bruneck Study

Michaela Defrancesco1, Raimund Pechlaner3, Stefan Kiechl3, Johann Willeit3, Eberhard A. Deisenhammer1, Hartmann Hinterhuber1, Gregor Rungger4, Arno Gasperi4, Josef Marksteiner2
  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria
  • 2Department of Psychiatry and Psychotherapy A, Landeskrankenhaus Hall, Austria
  • 3Department of Neurology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Austria
  • 4Department of Neurology, Hospital of Bruneck, Italy
Further Information

Publication History

received 16 April 2017
revised 30 August 2017

accepted 03 September 2017

Publication Date:
26 September 2017 (eFirst)


Introduction Depression in old age is associated with functional disabilities, cognitive impairment, lower self-rated quality of life, and increased mortality. The aim of the study was to reveal the prevalence of depression and to investigate the characteristics of patients treated with antidepressants.

Methods We analyzed data from the Bruneck Study 2010. All participants completed a clinical examination, cognitive screening, the 30-item Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) (cutoff score of>8 to define relevant depressive symptoms), and the World Health Organization quality of life questionnaire (WHO-QoL). Group differences were calculated using binary logistic regression analysis.

Results Out of 456 participants (mean age of 73.1±8.2 years), 22.1% showed depressive symptoms, and out of these, 30% were taking antidepressants. The depressed group compared to the GDS ≤8 group showed significantly lower WHO-QoL (p<0.001) and Mini Mental State Examination (p=0.015) score. Further, 13% of the latter compared to the GDS>8 group received antidepressants, and these had a lower WHO-QoL score (p<0.033).

Discussion Depressive symptoms are frequent in the elderly population. Our results confirm the negative influence of depressive symptoms on cognition and quality of life. Patients with somatic comorbidities are likely to receive more antidepressant medication.