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Journal Article

Duration of depressive symptoms and mortality risk: the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA)


Publication date

Apr 2016


Background: The relationship between the duration of
depressive symptoms and mortality remains poorly understood.
Aims: To examine whether the duration of depressive
symptoms is associated with mortality risk.
Method: Data (n = 9560) came from the English
Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA). We assessed depressive symptom duration as
the sum of examinations with an eight-item Center for Epidemiologic Studies
Depression Scale score of ⩾3; we ascertained mortality from
linking our data to a national register.
Results: Relative to those participants who never reported
symptoms, the age- and gender-adjusted hazard ratios for elevated depressive
symptoms over 1, 2, 3 and 4 examinations were 1.41 (95% CI 1.15–1.74), 1.80
(95% CI 1.44–2.26), 1.97 (95% CI 1.57–2.47) and 2.48 (95% CI 1.90–3.23),
respectively (P for trend <0.001). This graded association can be
explained largely by differences in physical activity, cognitive function,
functional impairments and physical illness.
Conclusions: In this cohort of older adults, the duration
of depressive symptoms was associated with mortality in a dose–response manner.

Published in

British Journal of Psychiatry

Volume and page numbers

208 , 337 -342





Older People, Psychiatry, Well Being, and Health


Open Access article; © The Royal College of Psychiatrists 2016. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Non-Commercial, No Derivatives (CC BY-NC-ND) licence.


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