Midlife slump finds people in their 40s down in the dumps

Discussion in 'Et Cetera, Et Cetera' started by Mem, Jan 31, 2008.

  1. Mem

    Mem
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    Middle age makes you miserable, so don't blame your job, your kids, your spouse, your income or lack of it, suggests an international study of 2 million people from 80 nations released today.

    Researchers from Great Britain and the USA analyzed data spanning more than 35 years on measures such as depression, anxiety, mental well-being, happiness and life satisfaction.

    They found that men and women in their 40s were more likely to be depressed and weren't as happy as other ages. Middle age is such a low point for well-being that it's at the bottom of a U-shaped curve that indicates greater happiness among the young and old.

    "It's midlife per se," says co-author Andrew Oswald, an economist at the University of Warwick in Coventry, England. "It's something deep beyond all the controls in our equation. It's a developing midlife low. It doesn't just happen one year and go away another."

    For both sexes, the probability of depression peaks around age 44.

    Oswald doesn't have any concrete answers on why such a slump occurs.

    "My best conjecture is that people eventually learn to quell their infeasible aspirations," he says. "They manage to get their expectations into line with what they can actually achieve."

    The study by Oswald and fellow economist David Blanchflower of Dartmouth College in Hanover, N.H., being published in the journal Social Science & Medicine found the same U-shape by age for 72 of 80 countries studied.

    "You can be almost certain you will follow this U-shaped curve," Oswald says. "If you are finding life tough in your 40s, maybe it's useful to know this is completely normal."

    The research found a less pronounced age factor in developing countries.

    Others who study happiness are less convinced this midlife slump is all about age.

    "In order to prove that, you can't just prove the other things are wrong. You have to get evidence to measure that," says Ed Diener, a psychologist at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, who has studied happiness for more than 30 years.

    "I'm not saying it's impossible, but I would be careful about jumping too quickly on some biological factor."

    Research by Angus Deaton, a Princeton University economist, has found a similar U-shaped curve in some countries, but he says it doesn't hold true globally.

    "Young people are happier in some countries, and in some countries middle-aged are happy. It depends on which country," he says. "In my data, it's true if you look some places, older people are really miserable relative to younger people. It's not U-shaped. (Happiness is) just going down."

    Despite the skepticism, Oswald says the age factor appears real.

    "We're correlating mental well-being with age, having factored out 100 other influences," Oswald says.

    "In 2008, social science can't do better than this."


    Copyright 2008 USA TODAY, a division of Gannett Co. Inc. All Rights Reserved
     
  2. viking1

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    I believe it...
     
  3. earllogjam

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    Depression peaks at 44?

    Oh goody something to look foward to.
     
  4. arthurdent

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    I believe it. I'm pretty depressed and don't see things getting any better.
     
  5. D_Bob_Crotchitch

    D_Bob_Crotchitch New Member

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    Hmmm some of us must be late bloomers.
     
  6. jason_els

    jason_els <img border="0" src="/images/badges/gold_member.gi

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    Huh. My worst years were my 20s, no question about it. Right now I should be depressed beyond words. I have no income, no insurance, draining my savings, and living with my father. Shit! By rights I should be swinging from a tree but I'm not. I actually feel great.

    Where I think these numbers come from are the numerous people who suddenly wake-up at 40 and realize they're not living a satisfactory life. They've been living what everyone else believes they should. Society says be rich, have a trophy wife, have drive, push, push, push!! And when it all hits home that this is their life, they're left getting drunk listening to Peggy Lee sing, Is That All There Is?

    That's why you should follow your own muse. I'm very lucky. I don't have a wife and kids or a long career and social or family obligations to keep me from changing my life so I don't have anything like the guilt some people do.
     
  7. SpoiledPrincess

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    My teens were my worst years, anything after that was good but my 40's have been particularly enjoyable. I agree with what Jason said, that some people suddenly find reality hits them hard and they realise that the life they'd been living isn't the life they wanted.
     
  8. The Dragon

    The Dragon New Member

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    I wonder if the lack of/ or the lowering of hormones has anything to do with depression
     
  9. Principessa

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    :biggrin1:Does that mean by 45 I'll feel better. Or will some how have reached catharsis?

    It could but that doesn't explain teenage depression.
     
  10. The Dragon

    The Dragon New Member

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    Perhaps unstable hormones..it's still an inbalance in hormone levels
     
  11. whatireallywant

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    I am 44 right now! :eek:

    My main "depression" now is due to financial problems, with a secondary being feeling that I missed out on the fun of youth that most young people have (or at least my perception of it...). However, my worst years were from around age 7 to when I graduated from high school, due to the culture around me. It changed a little when I went off to college but not much (the culture at the college I went to was too much of just a higher-educated version of the culture I grew up in). For me, where I live makes a big difference. People believe it's all internal, and that external factors don't matter, but I'm here to tell you that they do.

    I'm trying to make up for lost time on that "missing out on the fun of youth", but the financial problems get in the way. Still, I would not ever want to go back to the way things were when I was a child or in my teens! Yikes!
     
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