Researchers discovered that aging might actually improve mental health and make people happier with their lives.
The study involved more than 1,500 adults from different age groups. The results showed that seniors were more content and happy than people in their 20s or 30s.
While a vast majority of people believes that growing old is associated with gloomy feelings, it seems that this is not the case.
The decaying physical health and the cognitive deterioration is not necessarily related to depression.
The rule does not apply to everybody, and the study showed that the psychological well-being was improving with age in a linear and substantial way.
With each passing year, the participants reported feeling better about themselves and more content with their lives.
Details of the Aging Study
The authors of the study monitored the physical, cognitive and mental health of 1546 people with ages from 21 to 99 years old that were living in San Diego County, California.
The data came from the Successful Aging Evaluation study that involved structured telephone interviews and surveys with adults that did not have a known diagnosis of dementia.
The participants were not aware that their data would be used in a psychological study. Therefore, their responses were not biased.
The average age of the participants was 66 years, and half of them were men. 60% of them had a Bachelor’s degree, and 20% completed less than 12 years of education.
In terms of race, most of them were non-Latino Caucasian, 7% were Asian-American, 1% was African-American, and 14% were Hispanic.
The results showed that even if the physical and cognitive functions were decaying, their mental health improved with age.
The tests used to determine the mental health state were the Depression Scale, the Anxiety Scale, and the Happiness Subscale. Other tests used the SF-36 mental health composite and the Perceived Stress Scale.
Mental health distress was maximal in younger adults, and it declines with aging. The researchers discovered that people in their 20s and 30s had more stress and had the highest level of anxiety and depressive symptoms.
Reasons to be Happy
The explanation is that young adults have a lot of choices to make, and they worry about taking the correct decision. On the other hand, aging offers a chance to look back and be satisfied with whatever outcomes resulted from the choices made while being young.
Another conclusion is that older people tend to get wiser, as they learn not to stress over every detail. They also become more capable of regulating their own emotions and at making complex social decisions.
Aging also helps people to experience fewer negative memories and emotions, and it seems that seniors have a fair amount of wisdom and resilience that helps them get through their problems.
The researchers point out that a biased mindset can cause people project their own feelings over being old. However, our imagination does not fit reality.
When it comes to depression in old age, the scientists believe that it may be strictly associated with being physically sick. The authors of the study believe that the reaction can be reversed, and an improvement in the mental state of an aged person may also bring physical improvements.
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