BACKGROUND: It has been known that the prevalence of depression is increasing and depressive mood is accompanied with various physical symptoms in the elderly. In this research, we studied various physical symptoms of the elderly patients and how many of those symptoms were associated to depressive mood. We also investigated how much their doctors were concerned about depressive symptoms of the patients. METHODS: The subjects were 135 patients over 60 years old, who visited geriatric center and department of family medicine in a university hospital from December 2002 to May 2003. Individual interviews were conducted among the subjects and all symptoms who suffered from within a month from the time of inter view, depression score, stress score, functional status and their sociodemographic factors were assessed. Finally, doctor's diagnosis or comments on depressive mood were assessed based on the medical documents of the elderly patients with depression. RESULTS: 56% of the subjects had depressive mood. Common symptoms of subjects were memory impairment, visual disturbance, fatigue, arthralgia, and thirsty sense. The more depressive mood the elderly have, the more physical symptoms they have. The physician paid their attention to depressive mood in 13% of the cases among the elderly with depressive mood. Depressive mood was affected by whom they lived together with, regular exercise and stress. CONCLUSION: This study shows that most of the elderly patients had depressive mood and their common symptoms were associated to depressive mood. The stress and living together with their children were risk factors for depression of the elderly. However, depressive mood was less found among those patients who had spouse and who exercised regularly. Though physicians more likely recognize the depressive mood of the elderly as depression was severer, still little attention was paid to depressive mood in the elderly.