Despite sagging skin and cracking joints, old folks report lower levels of depression than people in their 20s and 30s, a new study found. The latest findings challenge the general belief that old age must be associated with grumpiness and depression.
The research involved 1.546 adults of whom the youngest respondent was 21 years old and the oldest 99. Every participant underwent a phone interview and completed long surveys on overall health, cognitive abilities, and life satisfaction.
Key questions focused on life satisfaction, level of happiness, depressive symptoms, stress, and anxiety.
“There’s this idea that old age is bad, it’s all gloom and doom and older people are usually depressed, grumpy and unhappy,”
said Dr. Dilip Jeste, head of the University of California’s Center on Healthy Aging and co-author of the study.
Dr. Jeste explained that most people perceive the progress in level of happiness and mental wellbeing throughout life as a U-shape curve. This means that the levels of happiness in seniors should match those of people in their 20s and 30s. Additionally, middle-agers should be the most depressed.
But that is not the case. The recent analysis revealed one surprising fact beside the aging-related mental deterioration and failing health. Older people have a better mental health.
Survey results clearly showed that seniors have the lower levels of depression, anxiety and stress. By contrast, young adults reported the highest levels of depression and anxiety, and the lowest levels of life satisfaction and happiness.
Nevertheless, researchers acknowledged that their findings may suffer limitations. They explained that they haven’t tracked the respondents throughout life to see whether situation changed. But as a whole, seniors experience a significant “improvement in mental health,” researchers noted.
What’s more, scientists believe that they may have the explanation for the paradox.
Young people care a lot about what other people have to say about them. So, they live under a constant peer pressure. There is also the feeling that you have so many resources but you constantly fail to properly make us of them. That paired with financial, romantic, and profession-related demands can take a heavy toll on a man or woman’s mental health.
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