Associations between Childhood Parental Mental Health Difficulties and Depressive Symptoms in Late Adulthood: The Influence of Life-Course Socioeconomic, Health and Lifestyle Factors

Background

Depression among older adults (i.e., the 50+) is a major health concern. The objective of this study is to investigate whether growing up with a parent suffering from mental health problems is associated with depressive symptoms in late-adulthood and how this association is influenced by life-course socio-economic, health and lifestyle factors in childhood and late adulthood.

Methods

We used life-history data from the SHARE survey, consisting of 21,127 participants living in 13 European countries. Symptoms of depression were assessed using the EURO-D scale. Parental mental health was assessed by asking respondents to report whether any of their parents had mental health problems during the respondents’ childhood. Logistic regression models were used to assess the association between parental mental health status and depression. Variables on childhood and late-life socio-economic, health and lifestyle factors were sequentially added to the model to assess the extent to which this association is influenced by life-course circumstances.

Netspar, Network for Studies on Pensions, Aging and Retirement, is a thinktank and knowledge network. Netspar is dedicated to promoting a wider understanding of the economic and social implications of pensions, aging and retirement in the Netherlands and Europe.

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