Depressive symptoms in late life and cerebrovascular disease: the importance of intelligence and lesion location

Alison D. Murray, Roger T. Staff, Christopher J. McNeil, Sima Salarirad, Louise H. Phillips, John Starr, Ian J. Deary, Lawrence J. Whalley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract / Description of output

Background The influence of white matter lesions on depressive symptoms in healthy ageing populations remains unclear. In this study, we examined the relationship between depressive symptoms and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) detected cerebrovascular disease in a normal population living independently in the community, and measured the influence of location of brain abnormalities, fluid intelligence, living alone, and sex. Methods Prospective cohort: 497 community dwelling individuals all born in 1936, who took part in the Scottish Mental Survey of 1947, were followed up in 2000 and at biannual intervals in a longitudinal study of health and cognitive aging. Two hundred forty-four volunteered for brain MRI in 20042006. Suitable data were available in 219/244, of whom 115 were men. Brain hyperintensities in lobar white matter, basal ganglia , periventricular, and infratentorial regions were measured using Scheltens scale. Depressed mood was assessed using the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS) on three biannual intervals. Relationships between Scheltens scores, HADS-D scores, fluid intelligence, living alone, and sex were assessed using general linear modeling. Results The main predictor of depressive symptom scores was poorer fluid intelligence (partial ?2 =0.0230.028, P < .05). Ischemic change in the brainstem (partial ?2 = 0.026, P =.05) and basal ganglia (partial ?2 =0.018, P = .05) also predicted HADS-D scores. There was no relationship with sex or living alone. Conclusions Hyperintensities in the brainstem and basal ganglia are associated with depressive symptoms. Higher fluid intelligence is associated with lower depressive symptoms in this normal, ageing population. Depression and Anxiety 30: 77-84, 2013. (C) 2012 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)77-84
Number of pages8
JournalDepression and anxiety
Issue number1
Early online date16 Nov 2012
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013

Keywords / Materials (for Non-textual outputs)

  • Aged
  • Aging
  • Basal Ganglia
  • Brain
  • Brain Ischemia
  • Brain Stem
  • Cohort Studies
  • Depression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Intelligence
  • Linear Models
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Male
  • Nerve Fibers, Myelinated
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Prospective Studies


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