Influence of the number and severity of somatic symptoms on the severity of depression and suicidality in community-dwelling elders

Hyun-Ghang Jeong, Changsu Han, Moon Ho Park, Seung Ho Ryu, Chi Un Pae, Jun Young Lee, Seung Hyun Kim, David C. Steffens

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9 Citations (Scopus)


Introduction: Older adults commonly experience somatic symptoms, and those who do are more likely to have depressive disorders as well. Our goal in this study is to examine the influence of the number and severity of somatic symptoms on the severity of depressive symptoms, including suicidality, in elderly adults. Methods: This study was conducted as part of the Ansan Geriatric (AGE) Study, a community-based cohort study in Ansan City, South Korea. A total of 3,210 elderly adults aged 60 years or over (1,388 males and 1,770 females) participated in this study. The Korean version of the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) was used to measure depressive symptoms and suicidality. Somatic symptoms were assessed by the Patient Health Questionnaire-15 (PHQ-15). Results: Both mild and severe somatic symptoms significantly increased the risk for severe depression and high suicidality. Severe somatic symptoms doubled the risk for severe depression and suicidal intent. Discussion: Somatic symptoms not fully explained as medical illnesses are closely associated with late-life depression, even after adjustments for comorbid physical illnesses and other confounding factors. The presence of somatic symptoms concurrent with, but not fully explained by comorbid physical illness or disability, seems to be an independent marker for predicting the severity of late-life depression and suicidality.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)274-283
Number of pages10
JournalAsia-Pacific Psychiatry
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2014 Jan 1



  • Depressive disorder
  • Somatoform disorder
  • Suicidal ideation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health

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