Physical frailty negatively affects the course of late-life depression and requires multifaceted interventions, according to a new analysis from a study of depression in seniors.

Researchers in the Netherlands worked with participants from the Netherlands Study of Depression in Older Persons, an ongoing cohort study of people aged 60-93 years who have been diagnosed with a depressive disorder.

From the cohort, the researchers examined 285 participants for a 2-year period with physical tests (such as a walking test and a hand grip strength test) and questionnaires aimed at assessing the course of participants’ depression and their physical health.

“The present study, to our knowledge, is the first to examine the longitudinal association between physical frailty and the course of depression in a sample of clinically depressed older persons,” wrote Rose M. Collard, PhD, of the department of psychiatry at Radboud University Medical Center, Nijmegen, the Netherlands, and her coauthors ( Eur Psychiatry. 2017 Jan 24;43:66-72 ). “Our results confirm that late-life depression is a highly persisting disorder, with half of the patients not achieving remission at 2-year follow-up.”

More “performance-based” frailty was associated with nonremission of depression, while “vitality-based” frailty was associated with remission.

The authors commented that “this latter result puzzled us, but a possible explanation might be that the vitality-based dimension of frailty reflects a classic, uncomplicated clinical depression,” which is more treatable.


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