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J Gerontol B Psychol Sci Soc Sci. 2002 Mar;57(2):S117-25.

Interlocking trajectories of loss-related events and depressive symptoms among elders.

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Department of Sociology and Office of Population Research, Princeton University, New Jersey 08544, USA.



As people age, their peers (who are also aging) become increasingly susceptible to health decline and death, implying potential growth in stressful loss-related events over time for the individual. Yet little research has examined trajectories of stress and their relationship to trajectories of depression among elders. The purpose of this research was to determine whether growth in loss-related events occurs for elders and whether stress growth is related to the well-known growth in depressive symptomatology in later life.


Three waves of National Institute on Aging Established Populations for Epidemiologic Studies of the Elderly (Duke University site) data were used in the analyses. Latent growth curve models were estimated for stress, for depressive symptoms, and for stress predicting depression net of several covariates.


Findings include that (a) loss-events evidence clear growth across age at the aggregate level, but with much variation within the sample, and (b) variation in growth in stress is strongly related to variation in growth in depressive symptoms.


The results suggest that stress in later life may be conceived of as a growth process, with strong consequences for trajectories of mental health.

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