Age and Mental Health

Aging is challenging enough without having misinformation complicating things.

CRAIN'S COMMENTS

Does mental health improve with age?

That’s the thesis of an article in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry (1) suggesting that might be the case.  The argument is based on a survey of 1546 people between the ages of 21 and 100.

The thesis is based on two errors in design and analysis of data:

  • A single survey conducted at a single point in time can never establish any form of causality.  You need to follow a group of people over time to establish trends and what might underlie them.
  • The alternative hypothesis is that people who are mentally healthy live longer than do others.  The data in the study is consistent with that theory.  In fact, by virtue of the fact that the mentally healthy are less likely commit suicide, by definition, they live longer.

There are several questions that the article does not address that could be of vital importance:

(1)…

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