Almost one third of older people living in rural communities in Australia and America suffer from depression – but depressive symptoms are more common in Australia.
A study published in the Australian Journal of Rural Health found 37 per cent of rural Australians and 28 per cent of rural Americans over the age of 60 reported experiencing depressive symptoms.
The research compared the factors causing depression among married people in both countries to increase the understanding of rural late-life depression.
Depression is a mood disorder characterized by chronic sadness and feelings of hopelessness.
It is estimated that almost half of all older adults suffer from minor depression while another 4 per cent suffer from a more serious form of clinical depression.
“With a quarter of the population predicted to be 60 years of older by 2050, the high numbers of older people suffering from depression is a troubling find for practitioners and policy-makers,” said the study’s lead author, Dr Evonne Miller from Queensland University of Technology.
The biggest cause of depression among older rural Australians was pain.
A sense of dissatisfaction with social support was linked to depression among American women but no single variable predicted depression among American men.
Although about 40 per cent of men experienced depressive symptoms in both countries, twice as many Australian women suffered from depressive symptoms when compared to their American counterparts.
“With nearly one in every three older rural people describing themselves as feeling depressed, it is essential to develop culturally appropriate and socially acceptable interventions and support programs for rural communities,” said Dr Miller.