Atypical depressive symptoms and obesity in a national sample of older adults with major depressive disorder

Kee Lee CHOU*, Kar Ming YU

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Journal PublicationsJournal Article (refereed)peer-review

26 Citations (Scopus)


Background The objectives of this study are to present findings on the rate of obesity associated with classic, atypical, and undifferentiated depression by comparing with those without depression in a nationally representative sample of United States older adults. Methods The authors used data from the 2001 to 2002 National Epidemiologic Survey of Alcohol and Related Conditions (NESARC), which included 10,557 adults 60 years of age and older. Chi-square tests were used to compare classic, atypical, and undifferentiated as well as nondepressed control in sociodemographic characteristics. Then, logistic regressions adjusting for sociodemographic characteristics were used to evaluate associations of rate of current obesity (defined as Body Mass Index (BMI) > 30) across the three depressive groups (classic, atypical, and undifferentiated depression) and nondepressed control. Lifetime, current, and past depression were examined. Results Significant differences were found between atypical and classic depression in sex, age, marital status, race, and personal income. After adjusting for sex, age, marital status, race, and personal income, the rate of obesity was significantly greater for respondents with atypical depression than respondents with classic, undifferentiated depression, or without depression. Same results were found in lifetime, current, and past depression. Conclusion Our findings suggest that the heterogeneity of depression should be considered when examining the effect of depression on obesity in old age. Prevention measures should be designed and delivered to older adults with atypical depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)574-579
Number of pages6
JournalDepression and Anxiety
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2013
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Copyright 2014 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.


  • atypical depression
  • major depressive disorder
  • obesity
  • older adults


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