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Depression Linked to Risk of Delirium in Elderly

Dysphoric mood and hopelessness associated with delirium

THURSDAY, May 17 (HealthDay News) -- Elderly patients are at higher risk of developing delirium in the hospital if, upon admission, they have symptoms of depression indicating dysphoric mood and hopelessness, researchers report in the May issue of the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

Gail J. McAvay, Ph.D., from Yale University School of Medicine in New Haven, Conn., and colleagues examined depressive symptoms in 416 patients aged 70 or older who were at intermediate or high risk of delirium. Patients were not taking anti-depressants at hospital admission. Depressive symptoms were assessed using the Geriatric Depression Scale and delirium was assessed daily using the Confusion Assessment Method.

The researchers found that 8.6 percent of patients developed delirium within five days of hospitalization. These patients had more depressive symptoms on average. Depressive symptoms of dysphoric mood and hopelessness were significantly associated with delirium, while symptoms of withdrawal, apathy and vigor were not associated with delirium.

"These findings suggest that assessing symptoms of dysphoric mood and hopelessness could help identify patients at risk for incident delirium," McAvay and colleagues conclude.

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