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Prevalence of depression in an aged population in Finland.

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Social Welfare and Health Department, Province of Vaasa, Finland.


The prevalence of depression by sex, age and certain sociodemographic variables was investigated among elderly Finns (65 years or over) living in the semi-industrialized town of Ahtäri (n = 1225). The prevalence of depression, determined using the DSM-III criteria, was 16.5% for the total population, 14.4% for the men and 17.9% for the women. Dysthymic disorder was the commonest category of depression in both sexes, with atypical depression the second most common category among the men and major depression among the women. A few cases of cyclothymic disorder were diagnosed in each sex, but no cases of bipolar depression. The occurrence of depression was not associated with sex, but it was related to older age, widowhood and lower educational level in the men, although not in the women. In both sexes, a high risk of depression was associated with being in long-term institutional care and receiving home nursing and/or a home help. The occurrence of depression was not related to earlier occupation.

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