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Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2002 Jan;17(1):65-72.

Gender differences of depressive symptoms in depressed and nondepressed elderly persons.

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Department of Psychiatry, University of Bonn, Bonn, Germany.



Women suffer more frequently from major depression and depressive symptoms than men. The somatic and the atypical subtype of depression seem to be more prevalent in women. However, few studies investigated gender differences of depressive symptoms in the elderly. These gender differences in the elderly will be investigated in the present study.


In the course of a family study 236 subjects with a lifetime diagnosis of major depression aged > 50 years and 357 control subjects from the general population matched for age and gender were questioned using the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). Chi-square tests were used to compare the individual depressive symptoms between men and women and logistic regression analyses were performed to account for the subjects' age, cognitive performance, family and employment status.


Women in the general population suffered from more depressive symptoms than men and had more appetite disturbance and joylessness. These gender differences could be entirely explained by gender differences in the family and the employment status. Men and women with a major depressive disorder presented with a distinct profile of symptoms that could not be explained by psychosocial factors: elderly depressed women presented with more appetite disturbances and elderly depressed men with more agitation.


Major depression in the elderly presents with partially different symptoms in men and women. The results suggest that the gender differences in the symptoms of major depression in the elderly reflect gender differences in the perception and the expression of depressive syndromes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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