The purpose of the present study was to estimate the prevalence of depression later in life in an urban area and to investigate the associations between possible risk and protective factors including adherence to a Mediterranean diet.
A cross-sectional study was conducted among the active members of the open day-care centres for older people, in East-Attica, Greece. An anonymous questionnaire was developed to collect basic demographic and medical data, the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-15) was applied to screen the elderly for depressive symptoms, the Athens Insomnia Scale (AIS) was used to quantify sleep disturbances and adherence to the Mediterranean diet was evaluated using the Mediterranean Diet Score (MDS). Statistics was processed with SPSS 24.0.
154 older adults took part in the study. According to GDS-15, 24.7% (21.4% moderate and 3.2% severe type) screened positive for depressive symptoms. 29.9% of the participants reported inadequate sleep, based on AIS. Depression and insomnia in older participants were more frequent in women than in men, in lower educated, in participants with lower monthly income and in older people with comorbidity (p < 0.05).
MDS revealed that adherence to a Mediterranean diet was moderate for 64.3% of the participants, and it was high for 34.4%. Depression diagnosed by a physician, was strongly associated with MDS (p = 0.035) and AIS (p = 0.001). Logistic regression analysis results revealed a diet higher in vegetables and lower in poultry and alcohol was associated with decreased likelihood of developing symptoms of depression later in life.
Our results support that depression in older adults is common and strongly associated with several risk factors. Adherence to a Mediterranean diet may protect against the development of depressive symptoms in older age. Moreover, not only diet but also sleep-deficiency might contribute to the depression later in life.