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Worry and depression in the old and young: differences and mediating factors

Armstrong, Lucy (2010) Worry and depression in the old and young: differences and mediating factors. University of Bath.

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Abstract

Worry and depression are the most common mental health issues for adults of all ages. Consistent research has found that older adults are significantly less worried and depressed than younger adults. However there is a lack of understanding about why these differences exist. A comparative investigation of metacognition, self-appraisal and coping is crucial to understanding psychosocial factors that mediate age differences in worry and depression. Benefits of this investigation are twofold; Knowledge of risk factors could improve current intervention programs for worried and depressed adults, and understanding protective factors could help develop prevention programs for all. This study was conducted in Australia and involved 60 students (18-24 years old) and 45 community-dwelling older adults (60-89 years old). Measures of worry, depression, negative self-thinking, metacognition, and coping were given to participants to complete, and several analyses were performed on the data. Findings supported and extended previous literature, revealing that negative self-thinking and problem-solving could fully mediate the age difference in depression, and partially mediate the age difference in levels of worry. This study successfully demonstrated the significance of these factors in the mental health of both younger and older adults. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed in the paper.

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