This is the secret to being happy according to psychiatrists

Joe Vesey-Byrne
Sunday 28 August 2016 13:00
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Picture: Tristan Fewings/Getty

A psychiatric study which focused on the mental and physical well being of over 1500 people has apparently found the 'secret' to being happy - but you could be in for a long wait.

To the chagrin of the youthful and impatient among us, the study published in the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry found that older people were much happier than millennials, and their age appears to be deciding factor.

The research was conducted by the San Diego School of Medicine, University of California, and looked at the well being of 1546 adults aged between 21 and 100. The psychiatrists measured the participant's cognitive function, physical health, and other indicators of a person's well being.

The findings showed that despite physical ailments being more common in the elderly participants, their mental health was much better. Fewer of the older people involved expressed feelings of anxiety, depression or stress, compared to ones aged between 20-30.

Speaking to Time, one of the study's authors Dilip V. Jeste explained the potential causes for higher instances of mental health problems in young people:

There is constant peer pressure: you’re looking at others and always feeling bad that you’re not succeeding like some of them, and you feel like you have lots of choices but you’re not really making use of them.

He suggested that by contrast, older people had fewer of these pressures, and were perhaps more emotionally equipped to deal with them.

This study found that people's mental health progress was linear, the older a participant was, the fewer problems they had with themselves. The findings contradict previous work that posits a U shaped curve in mental health, whose high point is the ages 45-55, and declines either side in terms of mental health.

A related study of depression in older adults conducted between 1998 and 2008 found that life for older people has been better in the last decades, which may also explain the improvement in the state of their mental health.

More: Quiz: How happy are you really?

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