Twelve-year history of late-life depression and subsequent feelings to God

A.W. Braam, H. Schaap-Jonker, M.H.L. van der Horst, B. Steunenberg, A.T.F. Beekman, W. van Tilburg, D.J.H. Deeg

    Research output: Contribution to JournalArticleAcademicpeer-review


    Objectives Growing evidence shows several possible relations between religiousness and late-life depression. Emotional aspects of religiousness such as facets of the perceived relationship with God can be crucial in this connection. The aim of the current study was to examine the association between the course of late-life depression and feelings about God and religious coping. Design Longitudinal survey study; naturalistic; 12-year follow-up. Setting Longitudinal Aging Study Amsterdam; population-based, in three regions in The Netherlands. Participants A subsample of 343 respondents (mean age: 77.2 years), including all respondents with high levels of depressive symptoms at any measurement cycle between 1992 and 2003 (assessed by using the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale and the Diagnostic Interview Schedule) and a random sample of nondepressed respondents who completed a postal questionnaire in 2005. Measurements Scales on God Image and Religious Coping. Twelve-year depression course trajectories serve as predicting variables and are specified according to recency and seriousness. Results Persistent and emergent depression are significantly associated with fear of God, feeling wronged by God, and negative religious coping. In terms of negative religious coping, significant associations were observed after adjustment for concurrent depression with a history of repeated minor depression and previous major depression. Conclusions Late-life depression seems to maintain a pervasive relationship over time with affective aspects of religiousness. Religious feelings may parallel the symptoms of anhedonia or a dysphoric mood and could represent the experience of an existential void.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1272-1281
    JournalAmerican Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry
    Issue number11
    Publication statusPublished - 2014


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