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Vascular basis of late-onset depressive disorder

Lookup NU author(s): Professor John O'Brien


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Background Growing evidence suggests that there may be a subtype of depression arising in later life that is characterised by a distinct clinical presentation and an association with cerebrovascular disease. This has been termed 'vascular depression'. Aims To review the evidence for associations between cardiovascuiar disease and depression and between cerebrovascular disease and depression, and to examine implications for clinical practice and research. Method The authors reviewed the medical literature covering the past 5 years. Results There is strong evidence for an association between cardiovascular disease and depression, but this is not confined to older people. The causal pathway may be bi- directional. There is also a convergence of evidence suggesting a causal link between cerebrovascular disease and depression, especially that occurring later in life. The major focus has been on neuroradiological findings thought to be due to vascular disease, although the pathology may be heterogeneous. Conclusions Although there are gaps in the evidence there is strong support for the concept of vascular depression, characterised by reduced depression ideation, subcortical neurological dysfunction, apathy and psychomotor change,This has implications for both treatment and prevention. Declaration of interest None.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Baldwin RC, O'Brien J

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: British Journal of Psychiatry

Year: 2002

Volume: 180

Pages: 157-160

ISSN (print): 0007-1250

ISSN (electronic): 1472-1465

Publisher: Royal College of Psychiatrists


DOI: 10.1192/bjp.180.2.157


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