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Psychol Med. 1997 Sep;27(5):1205-13.

Increased rate of psychosis and psychomotor change in depression with age.

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Department of Psychiatry, Prince Henry Hospital, Sydney, NSW, Australia.



We examined the phenomenology of depression in younger (< 60 years old) versus older (> or = 60 years) subjects and, more specifically, the interaction between age and psychomotor disturbance associated with depression.


Two hundred and eighty-five patients with a DSM-III-R diagnosis of unipolar major depression referred to a mood disorders unit were assessed using the CORE rating scale, a sign-based system for defining melancholia. Subjects were also assessed using the Hamilton Rating Scale for Depression, Zung Depression Scale, Newcastle Endogenous Depression Inventory and the General Health Questionnaire.


The total CORE score (and each of its subscales) was found to interact with age. Rates of psychotic and melancholic depression increased with age. Elderly depressives suffered more severe depression (higher HRSD scores), appetite loss and weight loss. Level of psychomotor disturbance and rates of psychosis did not differ between those elderly subjects with an early onset (before the age of 60 years) and those with a late onset (at or after 60 years) of depression.


There appear to be robust phenomenological differences in depression between older and younger subjects. The association between age and psychomotor change may assist our understanding of the neurobiology of depression.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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