Chronological and subjective age differences in flourishing mental health and major depressive episode
Mental health is more than the absence of psychopathology, but few studies use positive mental health along with a measure of past year major depressive episode (MDE). This study addresses this gap by investigating the association of MDE and flourishing mental health (FMH) with chronological age and subjective (felt and ideal) age. Data are from the Midlife in the United States random digit dialing sample of adults ages 25 to 74, collected in 1995 (n = 3032). Rates of MDE were lowest, and FMH highest, among the three oldest age cohorts (45-54, 55-64, 65-74 years). Subjective age was linked with chronological age; with age, adults tend to feel younger, and want to be an age that is younger, than their actual age. As predicted by the model of subjective age as an adaptive strategy, feeling younger was related to a lower risk of MDE and a higher risk of FMH. However, wanting to be younger was related to a lower risk of FMH and unrelated to MDE.