Cambridge University Press
Faculty of Computing, Health and Science
School of Medical Sciences / Systems and Intervention Research Centre for Health
Background: This study aimed to determine: (1) the prevalence of depression, anxiety, and depression associated with anxiety (DA); (2) the risk factor profile of depression, anxiety, and DA; (3) the course of depression, anxiety, and DA over 24 months. Methods: Two-year longitudinal study of 20,036 adults aged 60+ years. We used the Patient Health Questionnaire and the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale anxiety subscale to establish the presence of depression and anxiety, and standard procedures to collect demographic, lifestyle, psychosocial, and clinical data. Results: The prevalence of anxiety, depression, and DA was 4.7%, 1.4%, and 1.8%. About 57% of depression cases showed evidence of comorbid anxiety, while only 28% of those with clinically significant anxiety had concurrent depression. There was not only an overlap in the distribution of risk factors in these diagnostic groups but also differences. We found that 31%, 23%, and 35% of older adults with anxiety, depression, and DA showed persistence of symptoms after two years. Repeated anxiety was more common in women and repeated depression in men. Socioeconomic stressors were common in repeated DA. Conclusions: Clinically significant anxiety and depression are distinct conditions that frequently coexist in later life; when they appear together, older adults endure a more chronic course of illness.