Depressive Symptoms, Depletion, or Developmental Change? Withdrawal, Apathy, and Lack of Vigor in the Geriatric Depression Scale
Purpose of the Study: Researchers have posited a depletion syndrome among older adults that resembles "depression without sadness." Disengagement-related theories such as socio-emotional selectivity and gerotranscendence also describe an adaptive narrowing of the older person's social world and decreasing investment in activities and social relationships. This study has dual goals of confirming the existence of a "Withdrawal/Apathy/[Lack of] Vigor" (WAV) dimension of the Geriatric Depression
... atric Depression Scale (GDS) and exploring its properties for evidence that it may be descriptive of either depletion or disengagement-related change in older adults. Design and Methods: Data were obtained through a mailed survey of members 65 and older at a health maintenance organization. Respondents returned 327 completed surveys and 163 "decline" postcards. Principal-components analysis obtained a 6-item WAV factor for further analyses. Results and Implications: High endorsement rates for the items in WAV and its bivariate correlations with age and health problems suggest WAV may be congruent with disengagement or depletion and may lead to over-identification of depression in older adults. Interpretation of the GDS and similar measures may be improved by use of subscale scores and consideration of age and health status of the respondent.