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Middle Age a Low Point for Most
Date:1/30/2008

Study found age 44 marked the peak of depression for people around the globe

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 30 (HealthDay News) -- People around the globe hit the height of their misery and depression in middle age, a new international study suggests.

The finding by British and American researchers was based on an analysis of well-being among approximately 2 million people in 80 nations. With few exceptions, the observation appears to apply across the board, regardless of gender, culture, geography, wealth, job history, education, and marriage or parental status.

"The scientific fact seems to be that happiness and positive mental health follow a giant 'U' shape through life," said study author Andrew J. Oswald, a professor of economics at Warwick University in Warwickshire, England. "For the average person, it's high when you're 20, and then it slowly falls and bottoms out in your 40s. But the good news is that your mental health picks up again, and eventually gets back to the high levels of our youth."

Oswald and his U.S. colleagues will outline their conclusions in an upcoming issue of the journal Social Science & Medicine.

The finding was based on the pooling of several different sources of happiness data, including: two multi-decade happiness/satisfaction surveys (first launched in the 1970s), involving about 500,000 American and Western European men and women; four rounds of the 80-nation "World Values Survey" conducted between 1981 and 2004 in North America, Eastern and Western Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Central and South America; and a 2004-2007 survey involving nearly 1 million Britons.

The bottom-line: For most people throughout the world, the highest probability for depression striking is around 44 years of age.

In the United States, however, some as-yet unexplained gender differences were observed, with happiness among men dipping the most in their early 50s, whereas w
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