Abuse Linked to Depression in Older Women

Second study suggests depressed seniors benefit from an individualized physical activity program
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, May 11 (HealthDay News) -- In older, functionally independent women, physical and/or verbal abuse is associated with increased depressive symptoms and poorer mental health, according to a study published in the May/June issue of the Annals of Family Medicine. A second study published in the journal found that older adults with depressive symptoms may benefit as much from an individualized physical activity program as from social visits.

Charles P. Mouton, M.D., of the Howard University College of Medicine in Washington, D.C., and colleagues surveyed 93,676 women aged 50 to 79 who were enrolled in the Women's Health Initiative Observational Study. Compared to women who did not report abuse, they found that those who reported physical abuse only, verbal abuse only, or both physical and verbal abuse had a higher number of depressive symptoms (1.6, 1.6, and three more symptoms, respectively) and lower mental component summary scores (4.6, 5.4, and 8.1 lower scores, respectively).

Ngaire Kerse, Ph.D., of the University of Auckland in New Zealand, and colleagues randomly assigned 193 adults ages 75 and older with depressive symptoms to receive either an individualized physical activity program or social visits for six months. They found that there were no group differences in the primary outcome measures -- function, a short physical performance battery composed of balance and mobility, and the Nottingham Extended Activities of Daily Living scale -- and that both groups experienced improvements in mood and mental health-related quality of life.

"It is important to consider why a physical activity intervention did not result in a clear improvement in function, quality of life, or mood over social visiting," Kerse and colleagues wrote. "Future social and activity interventions should be tested against a true usual care control."

Abstract - Mouton
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Abstract - Kerse
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