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Depression and neuroticism decrease among women but not among men between 1976-2016 in Swedish septuagenarians

Journal article
Authors Therese Rydberg Sterner
Pia Gudmundsson
Robert Sigström
Felicia Ahlner
Nazib Seidu
Anna Zettergren
Silke Kern
Svante Östling
Margda Waern
Ingmar Skoog
Published in Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica
Volume 139
Issue 4
Pages 381-394
ISSN 0001-690X
Publication year 2019
Published at Institute of Neuroscience and Physiology, Department of Psychiatry and Neurochemistry
Centre for Ageing and Health (Agecap)
Pages 381-394
Language en
Keywords depression; epidemiology; gender; old age; public mental health
Subject categories Epidemiology, Psychiatry


Objectives: We evaluated birth cohort differences in depressive symptom burden, prevalence of depression diagnoses, and neuroticism, among Swedish 70-year-olds examined between 1976 and 2016. Methods: We used a repeated cross-sectional design examining four representative population samples of Swedish 70-year-olds (total n=2279) with identical methods in 1976-77 (n=392), 1992-93 (n=226), 2000-02 (n=487), and 2014-16 (n=1166). Depressive symptom burden was rated with the Montgomery Åsberg Depression Rating Scale. Major depression was diagnosed according to DSM-5, and minor depression according to DSM-IV-TR research criteria. Neuroticism was rated with the Eysenck Personality Inventory. Results: For women in 2014-16, MADRS score (4.4 vs. 6.1 vs. 5.8; p<0.05) and neuroticism (6.6 vs. 7.7 vs. 9.2; p<0.05) were lower compared to 1992-93 and 1976-77, and the prevalence of any depression was lower compared to 2000-02 and 1992-93 (10.9% vs. 16.9% vs. 18.1%; p<0.05). For men, we observed no birth cohort differences in depression, while neuroticism was found to be lower in 2014-16 compared to 1976-77 among men without depression (5.1 vs. 5.9; p<0.01). The sex difference for MADRS and neuroticism declined between 1976-77 and 2014-16 (cohort*sex p<0.05). Conclusions: Depressive burden and neuroticism decreased in 70-year-old women between 1976 and 2016.

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