Protective functions of health and self-esteem against depression in older adults facing illness or bereavement

Psychol Aging. 1991 Sep;6(3):352-60. doi: 10.1037//0882-7974.6.3.352.


Four functions were examined by which health and self-esteem could ward off depression over time in older adults. Adults (N = 1,074)--55 years and older--were interviewed 5 times at 6-month intervals. Demographic and prevent depression controls were included. Neither health nor self-esteem served as an interactive buffer. Both had direct negative effects on depression, independent of events, over 2 years. Neither illnesses nor bereavements had direct effects on depression; both had indirect effects through other events; illness also had indirect effects by weakening health. Health had stronger preventive effect on illnesses but was more vulnerable to undesirable events than was self-esteem. There was little support for the specificity hypothesis that a close match between event and resource would increase resource effects.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Aged
  • Aging / psychology*
  • Attitude to Health*
  • Bereavement*
  • Depression / prevention & control
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Self Concept*
  • Sick Role*
  • Social Support