Depression raises disability risk, especially among African-Americans

October 24, 2005

Depressed middle-aged adults are at four times greater risk for being unable to perform everyday tasks than their non-depressed peers, a Northwestern University study found.

"Among pre-retirement adults, limitations in life activities are strong determinants of job loss and the ability to find employment, and jeopardize an individual's ability to live independently," said Dorothy D. Dunlop, lead author of the study, which was published in the November issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

Dunlop is research associate professor of medicine and a researcher at the Institute for Healthcare Studies and the Multidisciplinary Clinical Research Center in Rheumatology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

The prospect of developing disabilities in daily activities, such as dressing, bathing, walking across a room and eating, was particularly devastating for depressed African-Americans. Almost one in five depressed African American participants in the study developed a disability within two years of enrolling in the study compared with one in 20 of their non-depressed peers, results showed.

Dunlop and co-researchers used data from nearly 7,000 participants from the Health and Retirement Study, a prospective survey of community-dwelling pre-retirement adults between the ages of 54 and 65 who were free of disability at the beginning of the study in 1996.

The investigators were particularly interested in studying these pre-retirement adults because of the deleterious consequences from depression on function and health in a group at peak earnings potential whose medical costs will be imminently covered by Medicare, Dunlop noted.

As expected, persons with depression were more likely to live alone, report chronic conditions (particularly cancer and lung disease), disabilities or functional limitations, and have fewer economic resources in terms of income, wealth or greater reliance on government health insurance such as Medicaid, compared with those who were not depressed.

Together, chronic conditions and higher-level functional limitations explained over half the excess disability incidence related to depression.

These findings show that substantial excess risk from depression is related to the greater burden of health needs experienced by depressed adults compared with their non-depressed peers, the authors said.

"Public health and/or public policy programs that promote prevention and effective treatment of depression, chronic conditions and functional impairments among adults may prevent the development of activities of daily living disability, interrupting a costly spiral of health decline," they said.

Dunlop's co-researchers on the study were Larry M. Manheim, research professor of medicine; Jing Song; John S. Lyons, professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences; and Rowland W. Chang, M.D., professor of medicine, preventive medicine and physical medicine and rehabilitation, Feinberg School.
-end-
This study was supported by grant P60 AR48098 from the National Institute for Arthritis and Musculoskeletal Diseases and RO1-HD45412 from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The Health and Retirement Study is conducted by the University of Michigan and funded by the National Institute of Aging.

Northwestern University

Related Depression Articles from Brightsurf:

Children with social anxiety, maternal history of depression more likely to develop depression
Although researchers have known for decades that depression runs in families, new research from Binghamton University, State University of New York, suggests that children suffering from social anxiety may be at particular risk for depression in the future.

Depression and use of marijuana among US adults
This study examined the association of depression with cannabis use among US adults and the trends for this association from 2005 to 2016.

Maternal depression increases odds of depression in offspring, study shows
Depression in mothers during and after pregnancy increased the odds of depression in offspring during adolescence and adulthood by 70%.

Targeting depression: Researchers ID symptom-specific targets for treatment of depression
For the first time, physician-scientists at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center have identified two clusters of depressive symptoms that responded to two distinct neuroanatomical treatment targets in patients who underwent transcranial magnetic brain stimulation (TMS) for treatment of depression.

A biological mechanism for depression
Researchers report that in depressed individuals there are increased amounts of an unmodified structural protein, called tubulin, in lipid rafts compared with non-depressed individuals.

Depression in adults who are overweight or obese
In an analysis of primary care records of 519,513 UK adults who were overweight or obese between 2000-2016 and followed up until 2019, the incidence of new cases of depression was 92 per 10,000 people per year.

Why stress doesn't always cause depression
Rats susceptible to anhedonia, a core symptom of depression, possess more serotonin neurons after being exposed to chronic stress, but the effect can be reversed through amygdala activation, according to new research in JNeurosci.

Which comes first: Smartphone dependency or depression?
New research suggests a person's reliance on his or her smartphone predicts greater loneliness and depressive symptoms, as opposed to the other way around.

Depression breakthrough
Major depressive disorder -- referred to colloquially as the 'black dog' -- has been identified as a genetic cause for 20 distinct diseases, providing vital information to help detect and manage high rates of physical illnesses in people diagnosed with depression.

CPAP provides relief from depression
Researchers have found that continuous positive airway pressure (CPAP) treatment of obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) can improve depression symptoms in patients suffering from cardiovascular diseases.

Read More: Depression News and Depression Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.