Subclinical Thyroid Dysfunction and Depressive Symptoms among Elderly: A Prospective Cohort Study

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

  • Manuel R Blum
  • Liselotte W Wijsman
  • Vanessa S Virgini
  • Douglas C Bauer
  • Wendy P J den Elzen
  • J Wouter Jukema
  • Brendan M Buckley
  • Anton J M de Craen
  • Patricia M Kearney
  • David J Stott
  • Jacobjin Gussekloo
  • Westendorp, Rudi GJ
  • Simon P Mooijaart
  • Nicolas Rodondi

BACKGROUND: Subclinical hypothyroidism has been associated with depressive symptoms in cross-sectional studies, but prospective data and data on subclinical hyperthyroidism are scarce.

METHODS: In the Leiden sub-study of the Prospective Study of Pravastatin in the Elderly at Risk (PROSPER) among adults aged 70-82 years with pre-existing cardiovascular disease or known cardiovascular risk factors, TSH and free T4 levels were measured at baseline and repeated after 6 months to define persistent thyroid function status. Main outcome measures were depressive symptoms, assessed with the Geriatric Depression Scale 15 (GDS) at baseline and after 3 years. All analyses were adjusted for age, gender and education.

RESULTS: Among 606 participants (41% women, mean age 75 years) without anti-depressant medication, GDS scores at baseline did not differ for participants with subclinical hypothyroidism (n = 47; GDS 1.75, 95% CI 1.29-2.20, p = 0.50) or subclinical hyperthyroidism (n = 13; GDS 1.64 [0.78-2.51], p = 1.00) compared to euthyroid participants (n = 546, mean GDS 1.60 [1.46-1.73]). After 3 years, compared to euthyroid participants, change in GDS scores did not differ for participants with subclinical hypothyroidism (ΔGDS -0.03 [-0.50-0.44], p = 0.80), while subclinical hyperthyroidism was associated with an increase in GDS scores (ΔGDS 1.13 [0.32-1.93] p = 0.04). All results were similar for persistent subclinical thyroid dysfunction.

CONCLUSIONS: In this largest prospective study on the association of persistent subclinical thyroid dysfunction and depression, subclinical hypothyroidism was not associated with increased depressive symptoms among older adults at high cardiovascular risk. Persistent subclinical hyperthyroidism might be associated with increased depressive symptoms, which requires confirmation in a larger prospective study. © 2015 S. Karger AG, Basel.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number3-4
Pages (from-to)291-299
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - May 2016

ID: 146207390