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Verbal aggression may signal depression

COLUMBIA, Mo., Nov. 11 (UPI) -- Nursing home residents who began using aggressive language were 69 percent more likely than others to be diagnosed with depression, U.S. researchers say.

Lorraine Phillips of the University of Missouri in Columbia says increased verbal aggression may signal depression in the elderly.

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"Depression is currently diagnosed using several methods that emphasize mood symptoms including interviewing and self-reporting of depression symptoms," Phillips said in a statement. "However, since elderly depression may appear with non-mood symptoms, these characteristics identified in this study can help diagnose depression that may be overlooked by traditional screening methods."

Phillips and colleagues found non-mood signs of depression as they analyzed information from the Missouri Minimum Data Set -- a federally mandated clinical assessment of Medicare/Medicaid-certified nursing home residents -- on more than 14,000 nursing home residents age 65 and older not diagnosed with depression when the study began.

Non-mood depression-associated changes noted in the study, published in the Journal of Gerontological Nursing, included:

-- Urinary incontinence

-- Increased pain

-- Weight loss

-- Changes in care needs

-- Reduced cognitive ability

-- Decline in performance of daily living activities such as dressing one's self.

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