Older patients' gait could point to depression

The slower they walk, and the shorter the steps the more likely they'll develop the disorder: study

Next time an elderly patient walks (or shuffles) into the surgery, consider their gait, because researchers have found links between walking speed and step length, and depression in later life.

In the Irish study, older people with a slower walking pace or a shorter step length were more likely to develop depression over the next four years than those who walked more quickly.

It can be difficult to detect depression later in life because older people are less likely to present to a doctor with mood-related symptoms, says lead author Dr Robert Briggs, from St James’s Hospital in Dublin.

“These findings are important because it is crucial to identify older individuals at higher risk of developing depression in order to promote earlier intervention."

Researchers used data from the Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing, involving more than 3600 people aged over 50 not previously diagnosed with