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Am J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2001 Spring;9(2):113-35.

The association of late-life depression and anxiety with physical disability: a review of the literature and prospectus for future research.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, PA, USA.


Depression and anxiety disorders are associated with excess disability. The authors searched the recent geriatric literature for studies associating late-life depression or anxiety with physical disability. Studies showed depression in old age to be an independent risk factor for disability; similarly, disability was found to be a risk factor for depression. Anxiety in late life was also found to be a risk factor for disability, although not necessarily independently of depression. Increased disability due to depression is only partly explained by differences in socioeconomic measures, medical conditions, and cognition. Physical disability improves with treatment for depression; comparable studies have not been done for anxiety. The authors discuss how these findings inform current concepts of physical disability and discuss the implications for future intervention studies of late-life depression and anxiety disorders.

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