Antidepressants and age : a new form of evidence for U-shaped well-being through life

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Blanchflower, David G. ; Oswald, Andrew J. (2016)

A growing literature argues that mental well-being follows an approximate U-shape through life. Yet in the eyes of some scholars this evidence remains controversial. The reason is that it relies on people's answers to 'happiness' surveys. The present paper explores a different approach. It examines modern data on the use of antidepressant pills (as an implicit signal of mental distress) in 27 European nations. The regression-adjusted probability of using antidepressants reaches a peak in people's late 40s. This pattern – one that does not rely on well-being survey answers – is thus consistent with the claim that human beings experience a midlife low.
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