|Title||Associations of mental health and chronic physical illness during childhood with major depression in later life.|
|Publication Type||Journal Article|
|Year of Publication||Forthcoming|
|Authors||Bergmans, RS, Smith, J|
|Journal||Aging & Mental Health|
|Keywords||Chronic disease, Comorbidity, life history, major depressive disorder|
OBJECTIVES: This study examined whether childhood chronic physical illness burden was associated with major depression in later life (>50 years) and whether this relationship was mediated by childhood mental health status.
METHOD: Data came from the 2016 United States Health and Retirement Study ( = 18,483). Logistic regression tested associations of childhood chronic physical illness burden with childhood mental health status and major depression in later life. Path analysis quantified mediation of the association between chronic physical illness burden and major depression by childhood mental health status.
RESULTS: One standard deviation increase in childhood chronic physical illness burden was associated with 1.34 (95% = 1.25, 1.43) times higher odds of major depression in later life. Childhood mental health status explained 53.4% (95% : 37.3%, 69.6%) of this association. In follow-up analyses of categorical diagnoses, having difficulty seeing, ear problems or infections, a respiratory disorder, asthma, an allergic condition, epilepsy or seizures, migraines or severe headaches, heart trouble, stomach problems, or a disability lasting ≥6 months was associated with major depression in later life with mediation by childhood mental health status.
CONCLUSION: Findings of this study indicate that children with a higher chronic physical illness burden are more likely to have major depression in later life and poor mental health during childhood mediates this relationship. Further research is needed to determine whether increased screening and treatment of psychiatric symptoms in pediatrics can decrease the burden of major depression across the life course.