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J Appl Gerontol. 2011 Apr;30(20):241-253.

The Relationship Between Mentally Unhealthy Days and Depressive Symptoms Among Older Adults Over Time.

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  • 1Rush University Medical Center, Chicago.


This article sought to determine the extent to which the number of self-reported mentally unhealthy days (MUDs) in the past 30 days estimates depressive symptoms in older adults. The sample of 4,321 community-dwelling residents aged 65 and above originated from an ongoing population-based study of older Blacks and Whites. Participants' data from 1993 through 2005 included the single MUD question and questions from the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Short Depression Scale (CES-D). Fourteen percent of participants had four or more depressive symptoms at baseline; of these, only 52% reported one or more MUD. Thirty-eight percent of those with one or more MUDs had four or more depressive symptoms. The results illustrate an interesting association regarding the measurements of two distinct, but related, mental health constructs. Although the number of MUDs was associated with having more depressive symptoms over time, the single-question MUD measure does not fully capture depressive symptomatology.

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