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Depression prevalent in mid-to-old aged Chinese women, rural residents

03 Oct 2019

Depressive symptoms appear to be common in middle aged and older Chinese adults, particularly in women and those residing in rural areas, according to a secondary analysis of a prospective cohort study. On the other hand, longer sleep duration and better self-perceived health status confer protective benefits.

The analysis included 11,533 participants who were free of depressive symptoms from the China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study. Of these, 10,288 (average age, 58.5 years; 49.3 percent female; average body mass index [BMI], 23.7 kg/m2) were re-examined in the first and/or the second follow-up surveys.

Most of the participants (73.3 percent) lived in rural areas, and 60.6 percent had primary education or higher. Ninety percent were married or living with a partner, about a third (31.5 percent) were current smokers, and 17.9 percent were current regular drinkers. The mean duration of sleep per night was 6.7 hours, and <20 percent of participants perceived their health status as very good or excellent. The mean Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression (CES-D) score was 5.1 at baseline.

A total of 22.3 percent of participants developed depression symptoms over 4 years of follow-up. The incidence was much higher in rural residents (25.7 percent) and in women (27.9 percent).

Notably, the risk of developing depressive symptoms decreased by 10 percent for every 1-hour increase in night-time sleep and by 62 percent with better perceived health status. In contrast, the risk increased in the presence of diabetes (odds ratio [OR], 1.19), chronic kidney disease (OR, 1.32), chronic digestive disorders (OR, 1.15) and arthritis (OR, 1.43) at baseline.

In light of the findings, researchers urged the development of an appropriate screening test to identify depressive symptoms in vulnerable individuals and ensure that they receive early interventions.

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