Background: White matter hyperintensities have been associated with the development of depression in older subjects, though the details of this relationship are not fully understood. Methods: In a pan-European multicentre study of 629 older subjects, we examined the relationship between MRI white matter hyperintensities (WMH), depressive symptoms and self perceived health quality of life (QOL). WMH were rated using a three-point scale. Results: We found depressive symptoms as assessed by the geriatric depression 15-item scale to be associated with WMH rating (Spearman's rho 0.11, p=0.008) and also with the Euro-QOL health score (Spearman's rho -0.5, p<0.001). In a ordinal logistic regression model, QOL was found to strongly predict GDS score (p<0.001) and severe vs mild WMH were associated with increased depression (p=0.028). The relationship between history of severe depression and WMH score was examined, but there were no differences either between those with and without a history of severe depression, or those with an early vs late onset of depression. Conclusions: The results suggest that WMH play a role in increasing depressive symptoms, even when perceived quality of life is controlled for as a possible mediating factor.
- White matter hyperintensities
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geriatrics and Gerontology
- Psychiatry and Mental health