Potentially Traumatic Events at Different Points in the Life Span and Mental Health: Findings From SHARE-Israel

Authors


  • The first wave of the Israeli component of the Survey of Health, Ageing, and Retirement in Europe was funded by the U.S. National Institute on Aging (R21AG2516901), by the German–Israeli Foundation for Scientific Research and Development (GIF), and by the National Insurance Institute of Israel.

concerning this article should be addressed to Amit Shrira, Department of Psychology, Tel Aviv University, Tel Aviv 69978, Israel. Electronic mail may be sent to amitshar@post.tau.ac.il.

Abstract

This study addressed the association between adversity cumulated at different points in the life span and present mental health. Data of 1,130 participants aged 50+ were drawn from the Israeli component of the Survey of Health, Ageing and Retirement in Europe (SHARE). Measures included an inventory of potentially traumatic events, mental distress (depressive symptoms), and well-being (quality of life, life satisfaction). Adversity reported to have occurred early in life was positively related to mental health (i.e., to lower distress and higher well-being), whereas adversity reported to occur in late life was negatively related (i.e., to higher distress and lower well-being). Additional analyses showed that the positive association between early-life adversity and mental health was mainly restricted to adversity in which the primary harm was to another person (other-oriented adversity). In contrast, the negative association between late-life adversity and mental health was mainly restricted to adversity in which the primary harm was to the self (self-oriented adversity). This study suggests that the differential association between cumulative adversity and mental health is best captured when accounting for both time of occurrence and adversity type.

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