Depressive subtypes in an elderly cohort identified using latent class analysis

E. M. Veltman*, F. Lamers, H. C. Comijs, M. W.M. de Waal, M. L. Stek, R. C. van der Mast, D. Rhebergen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background Clinical findings indicate heterogeneity of depressive disorders, stressing the importance of subtyping depression for research and clinical care. Subtypes of the common late life depression are however seldom studied. Data-driven methods may help provide a more empirically-based classification of late-life depression. Methods Data were used from the Netherlands Study of Depression in Older People (NESDO) derived from 359 persons, aged 60 years or older, with a current diagnosis of major depressive disorder. Latent class analysis (LCA) was used to identify subtypes of depression, using ten CIDI-based depression items. Classes were then characterized using various sociodemographic and clinical characteristics. Results The most prevalent class, as identified by LCA, was a moderate-severe class (prevalence 46.5%), followed by a severe melancholic class (prevalence 38.4%), and a severe atypical class (prevalence 15.0%). The strongest distinguishing features between the three classes were appetite and weight and, to a lesser extent, psychomotor symptoms and loss of interest. Compared with the melancholic class, the severe atypical class had the highest prevalence of females, the lowest mean age, the highest BMI, and highest prevalence of both cardiovascular disease, and metabolic syndrome. Limitations The strongest distinguishing symptoms, appetite and weight, could be correlated. Further, only longitudinal studies could demonstrate whether the identified classes are stable on the long term. Discussion In older persons with depressive disorders, three distinct subtypes were identified, similar to subtypes found in younger adults. The strongest distinguishing features were appetite and weight; moreover, classes differed strongly on prevalence of metabolic syndrome and cardiovascular disease. These findings suggest differences in the involvement of metabolic pathways across classes, which should be considered when investigating the pathogenesis and (eventually) treatment of depression in older persons.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)123-130
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Publication statusPublished - 15 Aug 2017

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