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Depression Pushes Middle-Aged Workers to Retire

Study finds it's often a key factor in the decision

MONDAY, Sept. 17 (HealthDay News) -- In many cases, depression is a deciding factor for men and women considering retirement, according to new research.

Middle-aged men who suffer with symptoms of depression are more likely to retire early, while retirement-age women often take the leap even if their depressive symptoms are mild.

According to researchers at the University of Pennsylvania, one in 10 working adults will experience a bout of depression over the course of the year.

The research team came to these conclusions after examining data from almost 3,000 adults participating in the Health and Retirement Study, a long-term study of mental health and work status drawing from 48 states. The adults were between the ages of 53 and 58 and completed a survey every two years between 1994 and 2002.

Previous research in Finland also indicated that experiencing depression predicted early retirement. Writing in Health Services Research, the researchers noted that the Finnish government provides a greater post-retirement safety net system than exists in the United States, so the fact that depression still exerts a strong influence on U.S. workers' decision to retire indicates the severity of depression's impact.

"In light of our findings, it is of concern that major depression and depressive symptoms are often unrecognized and under-treated. The burden presented by depression may be higher than we thought," lead researcher Jalpa Doshi said in a prepared statement.

Doshi pointed out that retiring early as a result of depression may create a more difficult health situation for the individual if their retirement savings are not sufficient and they can not obtain affordable health insurance.

More information

For more on depression and the workplace, visit Mental Health America.

-- Madeline Vann

SOURCE: Health Behavior News Service, press release, Sept. 17, 2007

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