J Korean Geriatr Psychiatry.  1998 May;2(1):47-63.

Depressive Factors in the Korean Elderly

  • 1Korea Neuropsychiatric Clinic, Seoul, Korea.
  • 2Department of Psychiatry, Korea University, College of Medicine, Seoul, Korea.


Depression is one of most frequent psychiatric disorders in the elderly. Major depression has higher prevalence in the elderly compared with younger subjects. Depression in the elderly is a major health concern that can be life threatening, if not recognized and not treated. An untreated depression may result in needless suffering, institutionalization, and suicide. Inadequated treatment may occur because the signs and symptoms of depression in the elderly are different from those in the young, and because the depressive symptoms may be viewed by the physician as a normal part of aging. The purpose of this study is to evaluate depressive factors in the Korean elderly. Four hundred and sixty eight Koreans were evaluated for depressive factors in 60 years old or more. The author performed a clinical evaluation guide, an intensive questionnaire, and Mini-Mental Status Examination-Korean version (MMSE-K). Stastically ANOVA, Scheffe, Duncan and Chi-square methods were used to find out depressive factors in the Korean elderly. Depression, dissatisfaction, suicidal idea and distress factors were evaluated in the Korean elderly depressed persons. Depressive factors were associated with physical health problems, family problems, psychiatric health problems, loneliness, economic problems, interpersonal conflicts, and occupational problems. Among these depressive factors, physical health problems were most frequently dominant in the elderly. Physical health problems are closely related to depression in the elderly. Depressive syndromes in the elderly are frequently combined with somatic complaints. And depression may be masked by multiple somatic complaints or by pain, for which no organic cause can be found. However, the etiology and mechanism of the association between physical illness and depression are unkown. Such factors as described above may be important in reducing the high prevalence of depression in elderly people.


The elderly; Depressive factor; Physical health
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