02 February 2008

Life begins at 40... And ends at 44

It would seem that 44 is the worst age of our lives. Data analysis on two million people from 80 countries found a remarkably consistent pattern around the world. 44 is the age when people are most vulnerable to depression the risk of depression was lowest in younger and older people, with the middle-aged years associated with the highest risk for both men and women.


The study, by the University of Warwick and Dartmouth College in the US found that only the US recorded a significant gender difference with unhappiness reached a peaking around the age of 40 for women, and 50 for men. Previous research has suggested that the risk of unhappiness and depression stays relatively constant throughout life.


Researcher Professor Andrew Oswald, an economist at the University of Warwick, said: "It happens to men and women, to single and married people, to rich and poor, and to those with and without children." He said the reason why middle age was a universally vulnerable time was unclear. However, he said: "One possibility is that individuals learn to adapt to their strengths and weaknesses, and in mid-life quell their infeasible aspirations.


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.


Marjorie Wallace, chief executive of the mental health charity Sane, said: "This study raises intriguing questions about the processes that lead to depression in mid-life, as well as indicating what a common experience it is worldwide. "We welcome any scientific contribution to our understanding of this illness, particularly if the research can aid the development of better treatments, both therapeutic and pharmaceutical."


Imagine what effect reading an article which says depression is at its worst at 44 on a 44 year old. It’s just as well I use an electric razor! Roll on March and my 45th birthday...

13 comments:

Sean Jeating said...

Spake Poul Anderson, 1969:

I have yet to see any problem, which, when you looked at it in the right way, did not become more complicated.

In this sense: Don't worry,Jams, be happy. :)

Anonymous said...

I can't wait until March either as I will than be 45 and all my woes will be gone. I had heard this study on the news last week. It gives hope to some who were happy earlier, but I think there are people who love to be miserable and will remain that way until their dying day.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Interesting. I think it's because sadly, bereavement starts to hit most people at around that age. Sorry - that's not very cheerful! But there IS life after that. It can even get better, jams.

Btw, I "lost" a comment of yours chez moi yesterday. I pressed "publish" but it disappeared - just so that you know. Auguri

The Lone Beader said...

Life is all what you make of it. At least that's what someone told me....

Colin Campbell said...

Certainly true for me.

Bretwalda Edwin-Higham said...

Jams - I'm in this area and I can say it's the very best time ever. No major health issues as yet, touch wood and having a ball - I just don't want it to end. Maybe different for everyone but a man seems to reach his full powers at this point [women mid-30s] so why the depression?

jams o donnell said...

Great quote, Sean, and so true!

colours of dawn, there's no doubt that depression can hit at any time and there will be some who will continue, regardless of their age.

Welshcakes, that probably does contribute to depression.

Indeed, LB. SOme simply do not realise their potential

James, for many the 40s is great. It's not been so bad for me on the whole although 44 has been utterly crappy, workwise. and I've been dogged with injuroes and illnesses.

For some, the first deaths of contempoaries, stifled dreams and the sight of "young whippernsappers" climbing above you on the corporate latdder can hit some people hard.

WillThink4Wine said...

I'm in my 50's. I can't say that I recall feeling anything but content in my mid-40's. Of course, I ended a not-so-great 21 year marriage at 40. That probably explains my contentment!

jams o donnell said...

Ah that will explain things' I'm sure willthink4wine!

elasticwaistbandlady said...

I must be getting an 11 year head start on it then.

jams o donnell said...

Sometimes I wonder if my trough started at 18 and bounced along the floor since then!

olderthanelvis said...

I loved being 44. Nothing's been as good since - but apart from the occasional mid-life crisis I still feel OK most of the time ... Every time I worry about a birthday someone says 'it's just a number'. I guess they are right.

jams o donnell said...

Just a number? you are quite right Olderthanelvis! I get a bigger nubmer next month!