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Soc Psychiatry Psychiatr Epidemiol. 2009 Nov;44(11):989-97. doi: 10.1007/s00127-009-0020-x. Epub 2009 Mar 14.

Cumulative adversity and depressive symptoms among older adults in Israel: the differential roles of self-oriented versus other-oriented events of potential trauma.

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Department of Psychology, The Herczeg Institute on Aging, Tel Aviv University, 69978, Tel Aviv, Israel,



The study examined the association between cumulative adversity and current depressive symptoms in a national sample of Israelis aged 50+. Referring to cumulative adversity as exposure to potentially traumatic events along life, the study distinguished between events primarily inflicted upon the self (self-oriented adversity) versus upon another person (other-oriented adversity).


Data were drawn from the Israeli component of the Survey of Health, Aging and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). During 2005-2006, 1710 Jews and Arabs completed an inventory of potentially traumatic events and two measures of depressive symptoms: the European Depression scale (Euro-D) and the Adapted Center for Epidemiological Studies-Depression scale (ACES-D). The Euro-D is more detailed in querying cognitions and motivations while the ACES-D is more detailed in querying feelings and social alienation.


In line with the hypothesis, self-oriented adversity had a positive association with depressive symptoms whereas other-oriented adversity had either no association or an inverse association with depressive symptoms. Sociodemographic characteristics and perceived health were controlled in the multivariate regressions.


The differential association of self- versus other-oriented adversity with depressive symptoms may be explained in terms of social commitments that are inherent in other-oriented adversity and incompatible with depressive symptoms. The study points to the variations in the symptom compositions represented by the Euro-D and ACES-D, with the latter better capturing the difference between self- and other-oriented adversities.

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