Drug treatment in depressed elderly in the Dutch community

Caroline M. Sonnenberg*, Aartjan T.F. Beekman, Dorly J.H. Deeg, Willem Van Tilburg

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Objectives: In older people, a diagnosis of depression is frequently missed, and proper treatment is subsequently hampered. We investigated antidepressant and benzodiazepine use in an older community sample, and assessed possible risk factors associated with non-treatment in depressed elderly. Methods: Data were used from the baseline measurements of the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam (LASA). In a random, age and sex stratified community sample of 3107 older Dutch people (55 to 85 years), respondents were screened on depression with the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D). In the depressed subsample depressive disorder according to DSM-III was assessed using the Diagnostic Interview Schedule (DIS). The use of antidepressants and anxiolytics (benzodiazepines) in the depressed subsample was measured, and associations with age, sex, cognitive impairment, physical health and anxiety symptoms were investigated. Results: Only 16% of the respondents with a major depressive disorder used antidepressants. More than half of them used non-therapeutic dosages. Lower antidepressant use was associated with cognitive impairment. Benzodiazepine use was more likely than antidepressant use, which was especially evident in females in the major depressive disorder group. Conclusions: Depressed older people were undertreated, particularly when they were cognitively impaired. A high rate of benzodiazepine use was found, particularly in females.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-104
Number of pages6
JournalInternational Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2003

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