Age, Aging, and Mental Health

Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


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.


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



Alzheimer’s disease


Center for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders


Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders Fourth Edition


National Comorbidity Survey Replication


Socioeconomic status


General Social Survey


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Sociology and Center on Aging and the Life CoursePurdue UniversityWest LafayetteUSA

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