Antidepressant Use Drops After Retiring

Summary
Few studies have reported on the negative influence of retirement on a person’s mental health. This study involves the examination of the participants’ antidepressant medication use over a period of time, including the important transition from working life to retirement. Around 11,000 retired participants were included in this study. Some of them had retired due to mental illness, few of them retired owing to physical illness, and the rest retired when they reached the statutory age. Based on details related to the purchase of antidepressant medication, it was found that retirement is beneficial for mental health.

Introduction
It has been proposed that the number of retirees per worker could double in most of the developed countries by the year 2050. Studies on retirement and its effects on health have been inconsistent with some suggestive of a positive impact, others showing a negative impact, while the rest being suggestive of an insignificant comparison. These inconsistencies could have occurred due to the poor study design. To evaluate the effects of retirement on mental health, the amount of antidepressant medications were assessed in the participants before and after their retirement. A reduction in the intake of antidepressants was hypothesized in the participants after they had retired. Similarly, the same was done with diabetic medication for a comparison.

Methodology
* The participants of the study were from the Finnish Public Sector Study group. Of these, 7,138 participants had retired at the statutory retirement age (76% women, mean age 61.2), 3,881 participants had retired due to some health issue, of those 1,238 participants had retired due to mental health issues (78% women, mean age 52), and 2,643 participants had retired due to physical health issues (72% women; mean age, 55.4).
* The retirement and medication data were obtained from the national registers.
* Data on the antidepressant medications during a nine-year period (before and after retirement) were compared with diabetes medication in all the participants.

Results
* Participants having chronic disorders and women were found to be more likely to receive antidepressant medications prior to their retirement.
* In participants who had retired at the statutory age, there was a 23 percent decline in the level of antidepressants use during their postretirement period. This was more in participants without long-term sickness.
* Retirement had no effects on the medications for participants with diabetes.
* Among the participants who retired due to mental disorders, the use of antidepressants was high prior to their retirement, peaking in the year of retirement, and decreasing after retirement.

Shortcomings/Next steps
In this study, depression and medication were analyzed based on the prescriptions from patient registers. However, filling the prescription does not necessarily result in the use of the antidepressant medication. These medications were also used in the treatment of other conditions besides depression, such as eating and sleeping disorders. The dosage of the medication and the duration were also not taken into account in this study.

Conclusion
Analysis of antidepressant medications in a large group of participants showed a low intake of antidepressants during the postretirement period. Thus, in this study, the prescription medications for depression were used to indicate the influence of retirement on a person’s mental health. It was also observed that the use of antidepressants was more in women than in men. In the postretirement period, the occurrence of depression was found to reduce by one-fourth. On retirement, people were able to find more time for activities at home and to pursue their personal interests. In addition, it has been found that receiving old-age benefits could lead to a feeling of having met societal expectations. Thus, retirement could be beneficial and influence a person’s mental health.

For More Information:
Is Retirement Beneficial for Mental Health?: Antidepressant Use Before and After Retirement
Publication Journal: Epidemiology, July 2011
By Tuula Oksanen; Jussi Vahtera; Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, Helsinki, Finland; Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA; University of Turku and Turku University Hospital, Turku, Finland

*FYI Living Lab Reports Are Summaries of the Original Research.



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