Aging anxiety, loneliness, and depressive symptoms among middle-aged adults: The moderating role of ageism

Yoav S. Bergman, Dikla Segel-Karpas

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Aging anxiety, or fears and concerns regarding one's future aging, have been shown to take a toll on older adults’ health and well-being, including loneliness and depressive symptoms. However, little is known about the possible consequences that aging anxiety holds for middle-aged adults. The current study examines the relationship between aging anxiety and both loneliness and depressive symptoms in a sample of middle-aged adults. It further examines whether ageism, or negative attitudes toward older adults, which have been associated with increased aging anxiety, loneliness, and depressive symptoms, moderates the connections between these variables. It was hypothesized that for those with higher ageist perceptions, the psychological toll of aging anxiety will be greater. Methods: A convenience sample of 1038 participants (age range = 50-67, M=58.16, SD=5.22) was collected using online questionnaires assessing aging anxiety, ageism, loneliness, and depressive symptoms. Results: Aging anxiety was positively associated with loneliness and depressive symptoms. Furthermore, ageism moderated these relationships, such that they were stronger for those with a higher level of ageism. Limitations: A cross-sectional design; an internet survey consisting of a non-clinical, healthy cohort. Conclusions: The results point to the clinical importance of addressing aging anxiety and negative attitudes in middle-aged adults with regard to loneliness and depression. The study provides clinicians with additional information regarding the formation and psychological consequences of aging anxiety with regard to how individuals perceive older adults and the aging process.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)89-92
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Volume290
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Jul 2021

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021

Keywords

  • Ageism
  • Aging anxiety
  • Depressive symptoms
  • Loneliness
  • Middle-aged adults

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology

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