Cerebrovascular disease and late-life depression

Helen C. Kales, Daniel F. Maixner, Alan M. Mellow

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

102 Scopus citations


Depression may occur as a result of vascular disease in a significant subpopulation of elderly persons. Indirect support for vascular disease as an underlying etiology of late-life depression includes the high rate of depression in patients with vascular disease, the frequency of "silent stroke" and white-matter hyperintensities in late-life depression, and the lower frequency of positive family histories of depression in such patients. The authors evaluate the associations of late-life depression with cerebrovascular disease by reviewing the existing pathophysiological, prognosis, and treatment-outcomes studies. Findings are based on review of the current literature systematically searched in electronic databases. Review of such studies indicates a high frequency of depression in older patients with cardiovascular and cerebrovascular diseases, and the possibility of a bidirectional relationship between depression and vascular disease. Studies examining patients with vascular depression have found that such patients have different symptom profiles, greater disability, and higher risk for poorer outcomes than those with nonvascular depression. Since the vascular depression hypothesis was proposed as a conceptual framework, evidence has accumulated that patients with vascular depression may have poorer outcomes that may be related in part to executive dysfunction and consequent disability. However, the association of vascular risk factors with geriatric depression has not been consistent in the studies to-date. Although an association between a subset of late-life depression and vascular disease is clear, significant gaps remain in our understanding. Further research is needed to establish the precise linkages and interactions between vascular disease and geriatric depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)88-98
Number of pages11
JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2005
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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