Age and depression

J Health Soc Behav. 1992 Sep;33(3):187-205; discussion 206-12.


In this study, the relationship between age and depression is analyzed, looking for effects of maturity, decline, life-cycle stage, survival, and historical trend. The data are from a 1990 sample of 2,031 U.S. adults and a 1985 sample of 809 Illinois adults. The results show that depression reaches its lowest level in the middle aged, at about age 45. The fall of depression in early adulthood and rise in late life mostly reflects life-cycle gains and losses in marriage, employment, and economic well-being. Depression reaches its highest level in adults 80 years old or older, because physical dysfunction and low personal control add to personal and status losses. Malaise from poor health does not create a spurious rise of measured depression in late adulthood. However, some of the differences among age groups in depression reflect higher education in younger generations, and some reflect different rates of survival across demographic groups that also vary in their levels of depression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Activities of Daily Living / psychology
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Depression / mortality*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Female
  • Frail Elderly / psychology
  • Frail Elderly / statistics & numerical data*
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Sick Role
  • Survival Rate
  • United States / epidemiology