Ageing, Social Class, and Common Mental Disorders: Longitudinal Evidence from Three Cohorts in the West of Scotland

Green, MJ & Benzeval, M
Psychological Medicine, 41, 565-574

Background. Understanding how common mental disorders such as anxiety and depression vary with socioeconomic circumstances as people age can help to identify key intervention points. However, much research treats these conditions as a single disorder when they differ significantly in terms of their disease burden. This paper examines the socio-economic pattern of anxiety and depression separately and longitudinally to develop a better understanding of their disease burden for key social groups at different ages. Method. The Twenty-07 Study has followed 4510 respondents from three cohorts in the West of Scotland for 20 years and 3846 respondents had valid data for these analyses. Hierarchical repeated-measures models were used to investigate the relationship between age, social class and the prevalence of anxiety and depression over time measured as scores of 8 or more out of 21 on the relevant subscale of the Hospital Anxiety and Depression Scale (HADS). Results. Social class differences in anxiety and depression widened with age. For anxiety there was a nonlinear decrease in prevalence with age, decreasing more slowly for those from manual classes compared to non-manual, whereas for depression there was a non-linear increase in prevalence with age, increasing more quickly for those from manual classes compared to non-manual. This relationship is robust to cohort, period and attrition effects. Conclusions. The more burdensome disorder of depression occurs more frequently at ages where socio-economic inequalities in mental health are greatest, representing a ‘double jeopardy ’ for older people from a manual class.

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Multivariate response model?
Longitudinal data?
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Paper submitted by
Michael Green, Social Patterning of Health Over the Lifecourse, MRC/CSO Social & Public Health Sciences Unit,
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