Disability type, depression, and antidepressants use among older adults in the United States


Objectives: The study aimed to estimate the prevalence of depression and antidepressant use among older adults with different types of disability.

Methods: The study sample consisted of 32,193 adults 50 years and older who participated in the Adult Functioning and Disability supplement of the National Health Interview Survey from 2010–2014. Logistic regression was used to estimate depressive symptoms and self-reported antidepressant use by disability type.

Results: One in ten participants reported feeling depressed daily or weekly, and less than half of them reported using antidepressants. Adults with a disability in cognition (odds ratio [OR] = 5.55), mobility (OR = 1.92), vision (OR = 1.91), hearing (OR = 1.88), and self-care (OR = 1.66) were more likely to often feel depressed. Antidepressant use was higher among those with cognition and self-care disability compared with no disabilities. A dose-response association existed between the number of disabilities and depression (AOR = 2.3) and antidepressant use (AOR = 1.39).

Conclusions: Various forms of disability are strongly associated with depression in older adults. Antidepressants may be underutilized among older adults with certain impairments, including vision, hearing, and mobility. Future research needs should elucidate the mechanisms linking different disabilities to depression and aim to develop treatments tailored to the needs of older adults with disabilities.


School of Social Work

Document Type





depression, Disabilities, NHIS, older adults

Publication Date


Journal Title

Aging and Mental Health