Ageing, Social Class and Common Mental Disorders
posted on: May 21, 2010
New research conducted by Michael Green and Michaela Benzeval at the MRC/CSO Social and Public Health Sciences Unit suggests that older people from disadvantaged social backgrounds face a ‘double-jeopardy' in terms of their mental health, being more likely to experience problems both because of their age and their social background.
The research, based on information from 4,510 people collected every 5 years for the last 20 years in the West of Scotland Twenty-07 Study showed that anxiety symptoms decreased with age, whilst depression, the more severe health problem, increased. Study participants came from three age groups born in the 1930s, 1950s and 1970s who aged from 55 to 75, 35 to 55 and 15 to 35 during the course of the study. People from manual social classes became increasingly more likely than those from non-manual classes to experience both anxiety and depression symptoms as they got older. This suggests that people in older age groups are not only more likely to experience depressive symptoms than younger people, but also to experience greater inequalities in depression. Studies which have investigated how common mental problems change as people get older have often grouped anxiety and depression symptoms together, but it is important to look at them separately as depression tends to be more disabling than anxiety.
The findings are published in Psychological Medicine.