Background: depressed mood is common in late life, more prevalent among the chronically diseased than in the general population, and has various health-related consequences. So far, the association between depression and unhealthy lifestyles among chronically diseased has not been examined longitudinally in older persons. Primary objective: to determine if depressed mood is associated with unhealthy lifestyles in late middle aged and older people, with or without chronic somatic diseases. Methods: in a sample of 1,280 community-dwelling people from the Netherlands, the associations between depressive symptoms and lifestyle domains were analysed cross-sectionally and longitudinally - using logistic regression analyses and multivariate analyses of variance. Results: after controlling for confounders, depressed people (n = 176 at baseline) were more likely to be smokers (odds ratio 1.71; 95% confidence interval 1.17-2.52). A persistent depression was associated with an increase in cigarette consumption (P = 0.036). Having an emerging depression (n = 155) was most likely to co-occur with a person's change from being physically active to being sedentary (relative risk-ratio 1.62; 95% confidence interval 1.05-2.52), and was associated with the largest decrease in minutes of physical activity (P = 0.038). This effect was not modified or confounded by chronic somatic disease. A persistent depression tended to be associated with incident excessive alcohol use (relative risk-ratio 4.04; 95% confidence interval 0.97-16.09; P = 0.056). Conclusions: depression is associated with smoking behaviour, and with an increase in cigarette consumption. An emerging depression is associated with becoming sedentary, irrespective of a person's disease status at baseline, and is associated with decrease in minutes of physical activity.