Find Information About:

Drugs & Supplements

Get information and reviews on prescription drugs, over-the-counter medications, vitamins, and supplements. Search by name or medical condition.

Pill Identifier

Pill Identifier

Having trouble identifying your pills?

Enter the shape, color, or imprint of your prescription or OTC drug. Our pill identification tool will display pictures that you can compare to your pill.

Get Started

My Medicine

Save your medicine, check interactions, sign up for FDA alerts, create family profiles and more.

Get Started

WebMD Health Experts and Community

Talk to health experts and other people like you in WebMD's Communities. It's a safe forum where you can create or participate in support groups and discussions about health topics that interest you.

  • Second Opinion

    Second Opinion

    Read expert perspectives on popular health topics.

  • Community


    Connect with people like you, and get expert guidance on living a healthy life.

Got a health question? Get answers provided by leading organizations, doctors, and experts.

Get Answers

Sign up to receive WebMD's award-winning content delivered to your inbox.

Sign Up

Depression Health Center

Font Size

Elderly Women Hard Hit by Depression

Group More Likely Than Men to Get the Blues, Less Likely to Recover
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Feb. 4, 2008 -- Older women are more likely to suffer from symptoms of depression and remain depressed for a longer period of time than men, a new study shows.

Researchers say major depression affects only about 1%-2% of the elderly population, but up to 20% may suffer from significant symptoms of depression that require treatment.

Although previous studies have shown that elderly women suffer disproportionately more from depression, researchers say the reasons for these gender differences are not clear.

Depression's Toll on Women

In this study, researchers looked at gender differences in depression among older adults for six years to see if they could find any clues.

They followed 754 men and women over age 70, starting in 1998 and every 18 months thereafter. At each follow-up appointment, the participants were asked to report any medical conditions and were screened for symptoms of depression, such as loss of appetite, sadness, or sleep problems during the previous week.

Overall, 36% of the participants were depressed at some point during the study. Of those, nearly half remained depressed over two consecutive follow-up appointments, and nearly 5% were depressed at all five checkups.

The results showed more women were depressed than men at each interval, and women were more likely than men to suffer from depression at different time points. However, older women were less likely than men to die while depressed.

After adjusting for other risk factors for depression, the study also showed that older women were more likely to become depressed and less likely to recover from depression. Researchers say that finding was surprising because women were more likely than men to receive medications or other treatment for depression.

"Whether women are treated less aggressively than men for late-life depression or are less likely to respond to conventional treatment is not known but should be the focus of future research," says Lisa C. Barry, PhD, MPH, of Yale University School of Medicine, and colleagues in the Archives of General Psychology.

Today on WebMD

Differences between feeling depressed and feeling blue.
jk rowling
Famous people who've struggled with persistent sadness.
depressed man sitting on hallway floor
Learn the truth about this serious illness.
Sad woman looking out of the window
Tips to stay the treatment course.
unhappy teen boy
Health Check
jk rowling
Pills with smiley faces
Teen girl huddled outside house
Depressed man sitting in hospital hallway
antidepressants slideshow
pill bottle
Winding path