Change in depressive symptoms in the Baltimore longitudinal study of aging

Adam Davey, Charles F. Halverson, Alan B. Zonderman, Paul T. Costa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Depressive symptoms have been represented in the research and clinical literature in terms of both an episodic phenomenon and as enduring individual differences. We investigated depressive symptoms longitudinally in a sample of older adults. Participants were 737 individuals (MAge = 73 years initially, 39% women) in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging who provided biennial Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression data on up to five occasions over an 8-year period. We found both trait and state-residual variability, with symptoms increasing longitudinally on all subscales and accounting for an approximately 1-point increase per decade. Trait-like variability accounted for at least two thirds of the reliable variance. Interindividual differences were consistent over time, but occasion-specific variability diminished across occasions.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)P270-P277
JournalJournals of Gerontology - Series B Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 2004
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Life-span and Life-course Studies


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