Depression is one of the most prevalent mental disorders worldwide. Little information is available regarding association of depressive symptoms (DS) with cancer and chronic diseases among middle-aged and elderly Chinese in a population-based setting. In this study we evaluated the prevalence and examined correlates of DS in two population-based cohort studies. Included in the analyses were 103,595 people with a mean age of 61.8 years at the DS assessment. The prevalence of DS was 2.4% in men and 5.6% in women. We found elderly participants, those with lower BMI, or chronic diseases were more likely to experience DS. Having a history of stroke (odds ratio (OR) = 2.2 in men and 1.8 in women), cancer (OR = 3.3 in men and 1.9 in women), or Parkinson's disease (OR = 3.1 in men and 2.7 in women) was associated with high DS. In women, high income and high education levels were inversely related to DS. Being a single woman, long-term or heavy female smoker was associated with high prevalence of DS. High BMI was correlated with low prevalence of depression in men. Our data suggests a low prevalence of DS among middle-aged and elderly people in Shanghai, China. Age, education, income, marital status, smoking, BMI, and certain health conditions were associated with DS.
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