Age at initial onset of depression and waking EEG variables in the elderly
Depressive illness with initial onset after age 60 has different clinical and prognostic features compared to depression beginning at a younger age. We evaluated waking electroencephalograms (EEGs) in 61 elderly depressed patients (32 early onset, 29 late onset) without cognitive impairment and not receiving psychotropic medications. The groups were comparable for age, severity of Hamilton depression score, education, and Folstein Mini-Mental State scores. Conventional visual EEG analysis revealed no significant differences in the mean alpha rhythm, incidence of abnormal records, or types of EEG abnormalities. Computerized spectral EEG analysis was also performed in 48 patients (23 early onset, 25 late onset). There were no significant differences in the pooled parasagittal mean frequency, theta--beta difference, combined delta and theta percentage, or relative power of the frequency bands. Thus, waking EEGs do not differentiate between elderly patients with the initial onset of the depression before or after age 60.
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