Background: Depressive symptoms are a leading cause of disability and emotional suffering, particularly in old age. However, evidence on depression and old age in developing countries remains largely ignored. The aim of this study was to examine the relation between health behavior and social conditions with depression among dependent community-dwelling older persons in the Republic of Chile. Methods: This is a cross-sectional and inferential study, using nationally representative secondary data. Two models used logistic regression on 640 dependent community-dwelling older persons from all over Chile, who personally answered a depression assessment, excluding those taking antidepressants. The geriatric depression scale (GDS-15) was used as outcome. The first model aims at any kind of depression (GDS 5>). The second aims at severe depression (GDS 10>). As exposure, we used the health behavior and social conditions of the older persons. Socio-demographic and physical conditions were used as adjustment. Results: 44.5% of the older persons presented depressive symptoms. Among them, 11% had severe depression. Logistic regression showed that significant detrimental factors for being depressed in both models were visiting the doctor five times or over because of acute diseases, feeling uncomfortable with their living arrangement, and feeling discriminated. On the other hand, every additional day of physical exercise and living alone had a beneficial and detrimental effect only in model one. Conclusion: Analyses on ways to support older persons living alone and the promotion of physical exercise to avoid depression are needed, along with a deeper understanding of the comfort with their living arrangement. Finally, ways to address the discrimination among older persons should be further explored.
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