Psychological Distress Over the Lifecourse: Evidence from the 1946, 1958 and 1970 British Birth Cohorts

Dawid Gondek, UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies
David Bann, University College London
Praveetha Patalay, UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies
Alissa Goodman, UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies
Marcus Richards, UCL MRC Lifelong Health and Ageing Unit
George Ploubidis , UCL Centre for Longitudinal Studies

We investigated the lifecourse development of psychological distress from adolescence to early old age. We used data from the longest running British birth cohort, the 1946 MRC National Survey of Health and Development (n = 5362), which allowed for the first time to observe the empirical, as opposed to model-based, lifecourse trajectory of psychological distress within the same individuals as they age. In addition, we investigated cohort effects in trajectories of psychological distress by including two other more recently born birth cohorts (the 1958 National Child Development Study (NCDS58; n=17,415), and the 1970 British Cohort Study (BCS70; n=17,196). Peak psychological distress was observed at age 53 in NSHD46, followed by a decline, lending supportive evidence to the inverted U-shaped trajectory of psychological distress over the lifecourse. The prevalence of psychological distress also peaked in middle-adulthood in the other two cohorts born 24 years apart.

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 Presented in Session 111. Demography of Mental Health