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Life satisfaction, distress, and resiliency across the life span of women

Beutel, Manfred E. MD1; Glaesmer, Heide PhD2; Decker, Oliver PhD2; Fischbeck, Sabine PhD3; Brähler, Elmar PhD2

doi: 10.1097/gme.0b013e3181a857f8
Articles

Objective: This study aimed to determine (1) the relationship between life satisfaction, mental disorders, and aging in the female community and (2) to identify the impact of vulnerability factors, personal (resilience, self-esteem), and social resources on life satisfaction and distress.

Methods: A stratified random sample of the German female population (N = 2,540) was investigated using standardized questionnaires of life satisfaction (Questions on Life Satisfaction), depression, anxiety (Patient Health Questionnaire), resilience scale (RS-11), and self-esteem (Rosenberg Self-Esteem Scale).

Results: When participants were divided into six age groups (18-30, 31-40, 41-50, 51-60, 61-70, and >70 y), we found lower life satisfaction, satisfaction with partnership, and sexuality beyond the age of 50 years. Satisfaction with health was decreased already at early adulthood. Although the importance of partnership/sexuality was reduced around midlife, the importance of health increased. Depression was highest in the oldest group, whereas anxiety remained fairly stable across the cohorts. Life satisfaction was strongly associated with resilience, a good household income, the presence of a partnership, absence of anxiety and depression, lack of unemployment, positive self-esteem, religious affiliation, and-least-age.

Conclusions: Personal and social resources and the absence of anxiety and depression are of crucial importance for the maintenance of life satisfaction in aging women.

Personal and social resources and the absence of anxiety and depression are of crucial importance for the maintenance of life satisfaction in aging women.

From the 1Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Mainz; 2Department of Medical Psychology, University of Leipzig, Leipzig; and 3Medical Psychology, Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, Johannes Gutenberg-University of Mainz, Mainz, Germany.

Received February 7, 2009; revised and accepted April 2, 2009.

Financial disclosure/conflicts of interest: None reported.

Address correspondence to: Manfred E. Beutel, MD, Clinic for Psychosomatic Medicine and Psychotherapy, University Medicine, Johannes Gutenberg University, Untere Zahlbacherstr. 8, D-55131 Mainz, Germany. E-mail: beutel@psychosomatik.klinik.uni-mainz.de

©2009The North American Menopause Society