Depression peaks at age 44, according to study

Social Science & Medicine is publishing a study by the University of Warwick and Dartmouth College that found that the risk of becoming depressed peaks at age 44. The study used data from two million people in 80 countries.
Professor Oswald said for the average person, the dip in mental health and happiness comes on slowly, not suddenly in a single year.

Only in their 50s do most people emerge from the low period.

"But encouragingly, by the time you are 70, if you are still physically fit then on average you are as happy and mentally healthy as a 20-year-old.

Link (Via Mind Hacks)


  1. I read another study which showed that older people were less depressed than younger. It also claimed that when older people were asked whether they believed they were happier earlier in life it was a resounding “yes”. It makes perfect sense given that how depressed we are is largely influenced by our ability to cope. As we grow older we have better ways to cope with depression and make ourselves feel better.

  2. I was depressed as hell at age 20, so were a lot of my friends, acquaintances, and girls I dated. It was the stress of university, lack of identity, overload of hormones, and pure emotional dependancy, I think.

    If I have to go back to that state at 50, I say, “No thank you!” I’m going to take up smoking again.

  3. Mid 40’s sounds about right to me. Wife, house, kids probably enter the teenage years. Yeah, I expect that’s going to push all my buttons…hard.
    And by late 50’s, 60 well the kids will be gone, hopefully work will be winding down and life we come at a slower pace. Amazing how that works.

  4. all right!

    I can’t wait to be 70! Bye bye depression….in only…another…thirty…five…years…of…this hell…

    aw, crap.

  5. Not to get too depressing, but I wonder if some of the reason that less depression is noted past 45 is that a portion of the pool of depressed folks has, well, voluntarily removed themselves from the survey population.

    “I’m not getting you down, am I?”–Marvin

  6. The study also noted that the US has the greatest difference between men and women in this regard, with women tanking at around 40 and men at around 50.

  7. #6 hit it. When you’re 44 your kids are probably just hitting their teen years or just hitting the peak of teen hormonal angst.

    That’s pretty much ’nuff said right there.

  8. @2: There’s good evidence that humans have been strongly selected to live a very long time, as well as an obvious selective advantage that evolution can operate on. Every other mammal lives about a billion of its own heartbeats. We live twice that, which is more like the reptile average.

    It isn’t just good nutrition and public health infrastructure that make the difference. Other mammals, even when well cared for, don’t match our relative lifespan.

  9. I believe this to be true. Leonard Cohen recently said that he doesn’t feel as depressed as he did when he was a young man.

    Subsequently, his newer stuff isn’t as good as his older stuff. :(

  10. I tanked last year at 35.

    If that wasn’t tanking…well, then, I’m taking some of you with me, goddammit.

  11. There is so much misinformation, misconception and ignorance about depression and mental health. Studies like these actually don’t provide any beneficial information. And yup, I have diagnosed clinical depression for nearly 10 years now. I’m 41 – I simply cannot wait to reach my peak…!

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