In 2012, almost twice as many Dutch people aged between 55 and 64 were seriously depressed than twenty years before, in 1992. Remarkably, there was a significant decrease (32%) in 2012 in the group of mild depressions compared to 2002. Psychiatrist Hans Jeuring found a clear link between the increase in major depression and a decline in physical health. He also saw a link between the decrease in mild depression and improved social and economic conditions of the participants in the LASA study for the elderly. Jeuring will defend his thesis on Friday April 12th.
In 2012, more people aged between 55 and 64 years had to deal with health problems, such as having a chronic illness, pain, sleeping problems and functional limitations, than in 1992. A number of other problems had actually decreased: fewer people had cardiovascular disease, there were fewer smokers, and fewer people felt lonely. Jeuring: “The percentage of people with major depression might have been even higher in 2012 if the latter risk factors had not decreased.”
More often a paid job
It was striking that in 2012 there was a significant decrease in the number of 55 to 64-year-olds with a less severe form of depression. Ten years earlier, in 2002, there were 32% more. Jeuring suggests a connection with improved social and economic conditions: “In 2012, the people surveyed were, on average, higher educated, and considerably more people were in paid employment. In addition, their network of friends, acquaintances and family was larger. “
Jeuring believes that the 55 to 64-year-old age group is important for prevention: “My research shows that factors that can be changed have an impact on depression. Investing in improving socio-economic and psychosocial conditions can therefore benefit mental public health. “
For this study, three groups, each of nearly one thousand 55-64 year olds, were examined in the same way, in 1992, 2002 and 2012. These people, from different regions in the Netherlands, are part of the LASA study, the Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam. www.lasa-vu.nl