Chapter

Handbook of the Sociology of Mental Health

Part of the series Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research pp 183-203

Date:

Age, Aging, and Mental Health

  • Kenneth F. FerraroAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology and Center on Aging and the Life Course, Purdue University Email author 
  • , Lindsay R. WilkinsonAffiliated withDepartment of Sociology and Center on Aging and the Life Course, Purdue University

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Abstract

Generalizations regarding the epidemiology of aging and mental health are contingent on how one defines mental health. This chapter considers the relationship between age and both mental disorder and positive elements of mental health, positing that many older adults live with a low-grade concern or anxiety about the future coupled with fairly high levels of happiness. Using a life course perspective, mental health inequalities are summarized along several axes of stratification. Stress process, crisis, and cumulative inequality theories are profiled for advancing research on aging and mental health. The chapter concludes by identifying some of the frontiers for breakthrough discoveries regarding aging and mental health.

Keywords

mental health mental disorder life course theory mental health disparities depression anxiety substance abuse