Depressed Men Visit Hospitals More Often

Depression in senior males more likely to lead to a hospital visit

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) If you don't feel good about yourself, you often don't take good care of yourself. But if you're in your older years, not taking care of yourself might mean more trips to the hospital.

A recent study found that older men with depression symptoms are more likely to end up in the hospital over a two-year period than non-depressed men.

They were also more likely to be admitted more than once and to stay in the hospital longer than men without depression symptoms.

"Seek treatment for depression."

The study, led by A. Matthew Prina, MPhil, from the Department of Public Health and Primary Care at the Cambridge Institute of Public Health within Cambridge University in England, looked at the relationship between depression and hospital admissions in older men.

The researchers tracked 5,411 men aged 69 and older for two years to see how frequently they were admitted to the hospital, the reasons for admission, how long they stayed at the hospital and whether they died. The men were all assessed for symptoms of depression at the start of the study. A score of 7 or higher (on a scale of 0 to 15) on the Geriatric Depression Scale Short Form was used as the dividing line for depression symptoms.

A score of 7 falls in the mid-range of mild-to-moderate depression (a score between 5 and 9). Severe depression is indicated by a score between 10 and 15.

A total of 339 men in the group had depression symptoms, and 152 of them (45 percent) were admitted to the emergency room at least once. Meanwhile, only 23 percent of the men who did not have depression symptoms (1,164 of 5,072 men) were admitted to the emergency room at least once during the study period.

Therefore senior citizen men with symptoms of depression were about 67 percent more likely to be admitted to the hospital.

The average number of hospital admissions among the men with depression symptoms was also about twice as high as the average number among men without symptoms of depression.

There was also a slightly higher rate of overnight hospital stays among the men with depression symptoms. While 93.2 percent of the hospital admissions among the men with depression ended up being overnight stays, 88.8 percent of the men without depression symptoms stayed overnight.

The rate of hospital deaths was also higher in the men with depression symptoms. While 4.1 percent of the men with depression symptoms died in the hospital, just 1.5 percent of the men died who didn't have depression symptoms.

The researchers adjusted their findings to take into account the men's educational background, whether they smoked and other characteristics that might play a part in how often the men are admitted to the hospital.

The researchers offered several reasons why men with symptoms of depression might be more prone to end up in the hospital and have poorer outcomes there.

One reason is that patients with mood disorders also tend to be less likely to take their medications for any condition. Therefore, they may be at a worse stage of their sickness by the time they arrive at the hospital, which means more time in the hospital and possibly a higher risk of death.

It's also possible that having depression might worsen other health conditions that the men have or lead them not to look after themselves as well.

Past research has shown that the more depressed individuals are, the more other physical health problems they tend to have. The researchers are not sure whether treating the depression would reduce hospital admissions.

"It is not clear whether reducing depressive symptoms would result in fewer hospital admissions, and further research is required to clarify this issue," the researchers wrote.

The study was published December 10 in the Canadian Medical Association Journal. Other than an Endeavour Research Fellowship for one of the authors, no external funding was used for the study. One author has received funding from Boehringer Ingelheim for work on a Pradaxa advisory board and from Bayer for lectures on blood thinner treatment for atrial fibrillation. No other conflicts of interest were noted.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
December 9, 2012
Last Updated:
February 18, 2013