Predisposing and Precipitating Factors for Depression in Older People

Psychological factors

  1. Unresolved traumatic experiences
  2. Previous history of depression
  3. Damage to body image
  4. Fear of death
  5. Frustration with memory loss
  6. Difficulty adjusting to stressful or changing conditions
  7. Substance use

Environmental factors

  1. Loneliness, isolation
  2. retirement
  3. Being unmarried
  4. Recent bereavement
  5. Lack of a supportive social network
  6. Decreased mobility doe to illness or loss of driving privileges

Physical factors, including genetics

  1. Inherited tendencies toward depression
  2. Co-occurring illness (e.g. stroke etc)
  3. cerebrovascular changes
  4. B-12 deficiency
  5. Chronic or severe pain

Personality characteristics

  1. Low self-esteem
  2. Extreme dependency
  3. pessimism


  1. Some pain medicines (eg codeine)
  2. Some drugs for high blood pressure (propanolol)
  3. Hormones (Oestrogen, progesterone, prednisone)
  4. Some heart medications (digoxin)
  5. Anticancer and immune suppressing agents (cyclosporin, tamoxifen)
  6. Some drugs for Parkinson’s disease (levodopa)
  7. Some drugs for arthritis (indomethacin)
  8. Some tranquilizers/anti-anxiety drugs (diazepam)
  9. Alcohol

Often health care workers will use an holistic approach, explicitly seeking to consider the biologic, psychologic and social predisposing and precipitating factors for the presentation.