Happiness is life without a job, right? A Finnish study examining retirement’s affect on mental health found it to be true. The researchers looked at approximately 11,000 people through public registries after they retire, and saw antidepressant use go down after retirment. Overall, those who retired at the legal age of retirement decreased their use of antidepressants by 23 percent even with about a third of those individuals retiring because of mental or physical health problems.
For some people, leaving the workforce does not mean happier days ahead. Researchers found that antidepressant use in diabetics did not change before or after retirement. Although this could have less do do with retirement and more to do with diabetes. There have been a few studies which found that diabetes and depression are strongly linked, either through a biological process or just the day-to-day difficulties of having to manage a disease for many years. Interestingly, the result of a study in France did show a decrease in depression among workers with chronic conditions that were of a similar age as those in this Finnish study, which may mean that retirement will help reduce depression to some degree for people with chronic conditions.
These results are important because it has been predicted that by 2050, the ratio of retirees to those in the workforce will double. In the U.S., the minimum retirement age is 65 and most of the participants in this study were younger on average but a study done in the U.S. showed similar results. While the thought of retiring may bring joy to many, for those who have to get a second job to survive in this recession or the 10.9 million individuals 65 and older with diabetes, happiness may be more difficult to achieve.