Prevalence, awareness, and treatment of depressive symptoms among the middle-aged and elderly in China from 2008 to 2015

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Abstract

Introduction:

This study aimed at exploring the temporal trend of prevalence, awareness, and treatment of depressive symptoms among the middle-aged and elderly in China from 2008 to 2015, as well as depicting how many respondents suffered from persistent depression, whether they were aware of and how they coped with such persistent conditions over time.

Methods:

This study used the 2008, 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2015 data of China Health and Retirement Longitudinal Study. We used descriptive statistics for data analysis.

Results:

The prevalence of depressive symptoms among the middle-aged and elderly in China remained relatively stable at 32% to 37% from 2008 to 2015. Only less than 5% of those with depressive symptoms were aware of their conditions and less than 2% sought care over time. We also observed that persistent depression was very severe among the respondents and most of those with persistent conditions were still not aware of nor seek any care for the symptoms.

Conclusion:

Despite of the continuous efforts done by the Chinese government, depression in China is still in poor management. The Chinese government needs to first understand why and how the continuous government efforts do not turn into actual effects of depression management.

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