International psychogeriatrics

Prevalence of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts among elderly persons in rural Bangladesh.

PMID 26250141


Depression, if broadly defined, is the commonest late-life mental disorder. We examined the distribution of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts, across age, sex, literacy, and marital status, among elderly individuals residing in rural Bangladesh and participating in a population-based study on health and aging. Prevalence figures of depressive symptoms were assessed with SRQ20 (n = 625), and possible social network and economic associations were examined. Morbidity accounts of depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts were examined for a subsample that also underwent complete medical examination (n = 471). We selected for analyses the items that corresponded to DSM-IV criteria and constructed a dichotomous variable. The prevalence was 45%, and most pronounced among the oldest women (70%). The overall prevalence of suicidal thoughts was 23%. Being a woman, illiterate or single were all risk factors for depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts. These associations remained unaccounted for by the social network and economic variables. Co-residing with a child and having a high quality of contact were protective of both depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts. The main findings were replicated in the subsample, where it was found that morbidities were also associated with the outcomes, independently of the four main predictors. Prevalence figures for depressive symptoms among elderly in rural Bangladesh are high. Demographic, social network, and morbidity factors are independently associated with both depressive symptoms and suicidal thoughts. This is the first study to report prevalence figures for depressive symptoms in this population.