Thursday, May 20, 2010

Happiness Increases and Stress Decreases After 50

According to results from newly published research, after age 50, daily stress and worry take a dive and daily happiness increases. The results were based on a Gallup phone survey of 340,847 adults, and published online in the journal, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Research shows that young adults experience more negative emotions more frequently than those who are older. Negative emotions, such as stress and anger, are similar in that they consistently decline with age, but worry holds steady until around 50, when it sharply drops.

This Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index was compiled in 2008 as the first year of a 25-year effort to measure well-being in the U.S.A. It asked adult respondents about various emotions, such as enjoyment, happiness, stress, worry, anger and sadness, and asked them to describe how they felt "yesterday."

"After 50 is when things start dropping off dramatically in terms of worry and stress. That's the turning point in some ways, but it's not a magic number in terms of everything that's better," says study co-author Arthur Stone, a professor of psychiatry and psychology at Stony Brook University in Stony Brook, N.Y. He is also a senior scientist with Gallup. Stress is "constantly dropping, but the curve gets much steeper after age 50," he says.

The study also found that women reported greater stress, worry and sadness than men, at all ages. []

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