Published: 2022-11-28

Prevalence of depression among elderly in an urban setting of Southern India

Remya Girijammal, Sara Varghese, Retheesh K. Haridasan, Pankajakshan V. Indu


Background: The reported prevalence of depression by WHO in the elderly varied between 10% to 20% in various societies. Some of the 121community-based studies in India had reported a prevalence of 13 to 43% depression in elderly. Kerala had a 12.8% of geriatric population according to census 2011. The aim of the study was to find out the prevalence of depression among geriatric population in an urban area which comes under Thiruvananthapuram Corporation, Kerala state, India.

Methods: Study design is cross sectional. Elderly over 60 years were interviewed using PHQ -9 questionnaire. Depression is diagnosed when the total score is equal to more than 5 in PHQ-9 questionnaire.

Results: Total 405 elderly were included in the study. 195 (52%) were females and   213 (48%) were males. The prevalence was found to be 37.3% (CI, 30.78-43.98). Among them mild and moderate depression accounted for majority of cases (35.7%) than severe depression (1.5%). Bivariable analysis yielded factors such as previous history of mental illness, family history of mental illness, stress and absence of recreation that were associated with the development of depression. Family history of mental illness (adjusted OR 4.59) and stress (adjusted OR 7.43) were emerged as predictors of depression in this study in multivariable analysis.

Conclusions: Prevalence of depression in elderly was found to be 37.3% (30.78-43.98) in an urban population of Sothern Kerala. In logistic regression analysis family history of mental illness and stress were emerged as independent predictors of depression among elderly.


Depression, Elderly, PHQ-9

Full Text:



WHO. The World health report: 2001: Mental health: new understanding, new hope. Geneva: WHO; 2021.

WMH. Day 2012 small file final, 2012. Available at: https://www.wfmh.or%20small%20file%20final. Accessed on 10 October 2022.

Grover S, Dutt A, Avasthi A. An overview of Indian research in depression. Indian J Psychiatry. 2010;52(1):S178-88.

Rajkumar AP, Thangadurai P, Senthilkumar P, Gayathri K, Prince M, Jacob KS. Nature, prevalence and factors associated with depression among the elderly in a rural south Indian community. Int Psychogeriatr. 2009;21(2):372-8.

Sinha SP, Shrivastava SR, Ramasamy J. Depression in an older adult rural population in India. MEDICC Rev. 2013;15(4):41-4.

Nandi PS, Banerjee G, Mukherjee SP, Nandi S, Nandi DN. A study of psychiatric morbidity of the elderly population of a rural community in west Bengal. Indian J Psychiat. 1997;39(2):122-9.

Barua A, Ghosh MK, Kar N, Basilio MA. Socio-demographic Factors of Geriatric Depression. Indian J Psychol Med. 2010;32(2):87-92.

Wig NN. World health day 2001. Indian J Psychiatry. 2001;43(1):1-4.

Nakulan A, Sumesh TP, Kumar S, Rejani PP, Shaji KS. Prevalence and risk factors for depression among community resident older people in Kerala. Indian J Psychiatry. 2015;57(3):262-6.

Gao S, Jin Y, Unverzagt FW, Liang C, Hall KS, Ma F, et al. Correlates of depressive symptoms in rural elderly Chinese. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2009;24(12):1358-66.

Wada T, Ishine M, Sakagami T, Okumiya K, Fujisawa M, Murakami S, et al. Depression in Japanese community-dwelling elderly--prevalence and association with ADL and QOL. Arch Gerontol Geriatr. 2004;39(1):15-23.

Bhamani MA, Karim MS, Khan MM. Depression in the elderly in Karachi, Pakistan: a cross sectional study. BMC Psychiatry. 2013;13:181.

Swaralatha N. The Prevalence of Depression among the Rural Elderly in Chittoor District, Andhra Pradesh. J Clin Diagn Res. 2013;7(7):1356-60.

Poongothai S, Pradeepa R, Ganesan A, Mohan V. Prevalence of depression in a large urban South Indian population--the Chennai Urban Rural Epidemiology Study (CURES-70). PLoS One. 2009;4(9):e7185.

Sathyanath MS, Kundapur R, Bhat US, Kiran NU. Proportion of depression among the elderly population in a rural health care setting. J Clin Diagn Res. 2014;8(1):137-9.

Lyness JM, Caine ED, King DA, Cox C, Yoediono Z. Psychiatric disorders in older primary care patients. J Gen Intern Med. 1999;14(4):249-54.

Sengupta P, Benjamin AI. Prevalence of depression and associated risk factors among the elderly in urban and rural field practice areas of a tertiary care institution in Ludhiana. Indian J Public Health. 2015;59(1):3-8.

Taqui AM, Itrat A, Qidwai W, Qadri Z. Depression in the elderly: does family system play a role? A cross-sectional study. BMC Psychiatry. 2007;7:57.

Meldon SW, Emerman CL, Schubert DS, Moffa DA, Etheart RG. Depression in geriatric ED patients: prevalence and recognition. Ann Emerg Med. 1997;30(2):141-5.

Reddy NB, Pallavi M, Reddy NN, Reddy CS, Singh RK, Pirabu RA. Psychological Morbidity Status Among the Rural Geriatric Population of Tamil Nadu, India: A Cross-sectional Study. Indian J Psychol Med. 2012;34(3):227-31.

Kennedy GJ, Kelman HR, Thomas C, Wisniewski W, Metz H, Bijur PE. Hierarchy of characteristics associated with depressive symptoms in an urban elderly sample. Am J Psychiatry. 1989;146(2):220-5.

Sagar RS, Mohan D, Kumar V, Khandelwal SK, Nair PG. Physical illnesses among elderly psychiatric out-patients with depression. Indian J Psychiatry. 1992;34(1):41-5.

Lueboonthavatchai P. Role of stress areas, stress severity, and stressful life events on the onset of depressive disorder: a case-control study. J Med Assoc Thai. 2009;92(9):1240-9.