Age-related differences of rumination on the loneliness–depression relationship: Evidence from a population-representative cohort

Horace TONG, Wai Kai HOU, Li LIANG, Tsz Wai LI, Huinan LIU, Tatia M. C. LEE

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

Abstract

Background and Objectives: This study examined the association of loneliness with depressive symptoms across various age groups. Loneliness is a significant risk factor for precipitating depressive symptoms. Rumination, a mechanism that underpins depression, can become intense when a person feels lonely. In addition, age is a major factor associated with changes in mental and physical health. Thus, the importance of rumination and age in moderating the loneliness–depression link were investigated.

Research Design and Methods: This cross-sectional study was conducted during the acute phase of the coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic in Hong Kong (February 27 to March 17, 2020). A population-representative sample of 1,972 people (1,107 females; 18–92 years of age) was recruited and interviewed via telephone through random digit dialing. This sample included 394 younger adults (18–30 years), 1,106 middle-aged adults (31–64 years), and 472 older adults (65 years or above). Respondents reported depressive symptoms, subjective loneliness, state rumination, and sociodemographic factors.

Results: Loneliness and rumination were positively associated with depressive symptoms, and they significantly interacted in predicting cognitive-affective symptoms. Further analysis of age showed that the interaction was significant only in middle-aged adults and older adults. Both rumination and age interacted with loneliness, respectively, in predicting cognitive-affective symptoms.

Discussion and Implications: These findings indicate that the strength of the association between loneliness and the cognitive-affective symptoms of depression depends on rumination levels and age. An intervention to regulate rumination offers a feasible direction for health care and social care aimed at improving older adults’ mental health. Copyright © 2021 The Author(s).
Original languageEnglish
Article numberigab034
JournalInnovation in Aging
Volume5
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

Citation

Tong, H., Hou, W. K., Liang, L., Li, T. W., Liu, H., & Lee, T. M. C. (2021). Age-related differences of rumination on the loneliness–depression relationship: Evidence from a population-representative cohort. Innovation in Aging, 5(4). Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1093/geroni/igab034

Keywords

  • Age difference
  • COVID-19
  • Depression
  • Loneliness
  • Rumination

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