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BACKGROUND: Imaging studies in depression of the elderly are often small and highly selective. AIMS: To investigate a large group of elderly depressed patients in order to assess changes in clinical, imaging and neuropsychological variables at follow-up. METHOD: Patients (n = 175, age range 65-91 years) with clinical depression were identified from consecutive local referrals. Clinical interviews, neuropsychological tests and SPECT scans were carried out at referral and at two-year follow-up. RESULTS: Of 84 re-examined patients, 46.5% were well, 9.5% were ill, 33% partially recovered and 11% had developed dementia. Duration of illness before index assessment was the only factor to predict outcome. Thirty-nine patients could be scanned and followed up. There were no differences between patients with good or poor depressive outcome on SPECT. Ten clinically improved patients could be re-examined with SPECT. There were relative increases in right cingulate gyrus and right cerebellum at follow-up. CONCLUSIONS: The patients group was comparable with other studies showing high levels of residual depressive symptoms. Activity changes in limbic cortex are implicated in depression of old age.

Original publication




Journal article


Br J Psychiatry

Publication Date





252 - 258


Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Antidepressive Agents, Cognition Disorders, Dementia, Depressive Disorder, Female, Follow-Up Studies, Humans, Male, Mental Recall, Neuropsychological Tests, Prognosis, Tomography, Emission-Computed, Single-Photon