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Mood disorders in late life: a population-based analysis of prevalence, risk factors, and consequences in community-dwelling older adults in Ontario


Objective — Mental health issues in late life are a growing public health challenge as the population aged 65 and older rapidly increases worldwide. An updated understanding of the causes of mood disorders and their consequences in late life could guide interventions for this underrecognized and undertreated problem. We undertook a population-based analysis to quantify the prevalence of mood disorders in late life in Ontario, Canada, and to identify potential risk factors and consequences.

Method — Individuals aged 65 or older participating in 4 cycles of a nationally representative survey were included. Self-report of a diagnosed mood disorder was used as the outcome measure. Using linked administrative data, we quantified associations between mood disorder and potential risk factors such as demographic/socioeconomic factors, substance use, and comorbidity. We also determined associations between mood disorders and 5-year outcomes including health service utilization and mortality.

Results — The prevalence of mood disorders was 6.1% (4.9% among males, 7.1% among females). Statistically significant associations with mood disorders included younger age, female sex, food insecurity, chronic opioid use, smoking, and morbidity. Individuals with mood disorders had increased odds of all consequences examined, including placement in long-term care (adjusted odds ratio [OR] =2.28; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.71 to 3.02) and death (adjusted OR = 1.35; 95% CI, 1.13 to 1.63).

Conclusions — Mood disorders in late life were strongly correlated with demographic and social/behavioral factors, healthcare use, institutionalization, and mortality. Understanding these relationships provides a basis for potential interventions to reduce the occurrence of mood disorders in late life and their consequences.



Strauss R, Kurdyak P, Glazier RH. Can J Psychiatry. 2020; 65(9):630-40. Epub 2020 May 21.

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