Depression and Mortality Risk among Older Adults

Stacie Carr, Princeton University

The evidence on whether depression has an independent causal effect on the mortality of older adults is mixed. Some findings demonstrate that associations between depression and mortality persist net of subjective health, disability, physical illness, or other controls, whereas in other work the associations disappear. Other studies have sought to disentangle depression–mortality relationships by examining the factors that comprise the CES-D and other depression scales. Most of the various approaches have not addressed multi-directional causality whereby depressive symptoms may directly contribute to disability or physical health, each of which may simultaneously augment or alleviate depression. Using waves 4 through 8 from the Health and Retirement Study, a population-based sample of Americans over 50, this analysis uses proportional hazard and structural equation modeling to answer whether, how, and to what extent depressive symptoms operate through, on, or resulting from physical health and disability.

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Presented in Session 33: Risk Factors Associated with Adult Mortality