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Journal Article


Heikkinen RL. Scand. J. Soc. Med. Suppl. 1997; 53: 66-78.


Department of Health Sciences, University of Jyvaskyla, Finland.


(Copyright © 1997, Scandinavian University Press)






The aim of this article is to describe the changes that occurred in depressive symptomatology over a five-year period among 75- and 80-year old residents of Jyvaskyla. It also addresses the question of whether the mood disturbance detected is a permanent phenomenon or whether it has a more episodic nature. In both follow-up cohorts, depressed people were interviewed to find out how the elderly themselves experienced depression and to assess the validity of the CES-D self-rating scale in measuring depressive symptomatology. The purpose of the study was also to find out if depression was predictive for survival. During the five-year follow-up the mean score describing depressed mood (CES-D total scale) did not significantly change in any age group or gender, nor did the mean score of those who died during the follow up differ significantly from the core of the survivors. The mean score of the CES-D subscale Lack of well-being increased among 80-year old women over a five-year follow-up period and those who died had a significantly lower well-being score than those who survived. More than half of the interviewees were classified depressed in both age-cohorts in both examination times. Almost all those elderly people whose score indicated depressiveness in the second examination confirmed that the diagnoses of depressed mood based on the CES-D scale was correct. The higher the CES-D score, the more frequent and/or the more difficult were the problems mentioned in their narratives of depression. Compared with the situation at baseline, the proportion of men and women aged 80 who reported loneliness increased significantly during the follow-up.

Language: en


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