Depression and physical disability

Brenda W.J.H. Penninx*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterAcademicpeer-review


This chapter describes the link between depression and disability. Disability can be defined as a restriction in or lack of ability to perform an activity because of impairment. These activities can include interpersonal relationships, work and school activities and physical activities; the latter is defined as ‘physical disability’. In this chapter, the main focus is on physical disability, since this is the type of disability that has often been examined in relation to depression, especially in old age. However, when appropriate the chapter also elaborates on other types of disability. The first section of this chapter describes the concept of disability in more detail. The next section provides an overview of research that examines the link between depression and disability. It then goes on to discuss underlying mechanisms that could explain the link between depression and disability. Subsequently, results of intervention studies that try to break the link between depression and disability are described. The chapter ends with some concluding remarks. Disability: a functional indicator of physical health Various chapters of this book demonstrate that the importance of chronic conditions for mental health is undisputed. These chapters show that conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, cancer and chronic fatigue are included among the strongest risk factors for depression, and that the presence of depression influences the course and management of these chronic illnesses. Especially in old age, individuals often have multiple chronic conditions, which may vary in their severity.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationDepression and Physical Illness
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages20
ISBN (Electronic)9780511544293
ISBN (Print)0521603609, 9780521603607
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2006

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