The reciprocal relationship between depression and physical morbidity: The role of subjective age

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Objectives: The study aims to examine whether the reciprocal effects of physical morbidity and depression are moderated by subjective age-that is, individuals' perception of themselves as young or old. Method: Data from the first two waves of the Midlife in the United States study (1995- 6, T1; 2004-6, T2; were analyzed using a cross-lagged design. We assessed 3,591 individuals who participated in both waves and provided full data on all the relevant variables (mean age at T1 = 47.4). Depression and the number of chronic illnesses (the indicator of physical morbidity) were measured at both waves and were tested as predictors and outcomes in a cross-lagged model. The moderating role of subjective age was assessed by examining whether T1 variables interacted with subjective age in predicting T2 outcomes. Results: Subjective age moderated the T1 depression-T2 morbidity relationship, so that the relationship was stronger for those with older subjective age. Subjective age did not moderate the T1 morbidity-T2 depression relationship. Conclusion: Older subjective age could be a risk factor for experiencing greater physical morbidity following depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)848-851
Number of pages4
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2017

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The MIDUS I study (Midlife in the U.S.) was supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Midlife Development. The MIDUS II research was supported by a grant from the National Institute on Aging (P01-AG020166) to conduct a longitudinal follow-up of the MIDUS I investigation.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 American Psychological Association.


  • Depression
  • Health
  • Longitudinal
  • Physical morbidity
  • Subjective age

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Applied Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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