Mean Scores on Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) as Indicator of Prevalence of Depression in a Rural Elderly Population in North-West India
Introduction: Depression constitutes the most prominent of affective disorders encountered in old age. Major depression, found in some 5% of older persons in the community, and minor depression, found in some 10- 20%, is associated with increased risk of physical disability.
Material and Methods: The study was conducted as a survey of all residents aged 60 years and older. A house-to-house survey was conducted to identify individuals eligible for inclusion in the study. All eligible individuals present in their homes on the day of survey and who gave their consent to participate were included in the study.
Results: The mean score on Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS) for the study population was 0.39+1.54 with females scoring slightly higher (0.41+2.25) as compared to males (0.38+1.19). Importantly the GDS scores were found to be highest for the age group 80-89 at 2.14+5.34. The GDS scores showed a significant upward trend as the age advanced.
Conclusions: The mean GDS scores among elderly in Himachal Pradesh is lower indicating a lower prevalence of depression as compared to studies conducted across different parts of world. This could be because joint family norm is still the predominant form of family setting in Himachal Pradesh which helps prevent loneliness and compensates for economic insecurity among elders.