The trajectory of negative mood and depressive symptoms over two decades


      • In a longitudinal sample of women transitioning from mid-life to late-life, negative mood and depressive symptoms were seen to decrease.
      • Mid-life women reported more depressive symptoms than late-life women.
      • Assessing negative mood in longitudinal samples is a useful independent measure.



      Research aimed at understanding the temporal characteristics of depressive symptoms and negative mood in an older female population is lacking, despite the relationship between the two factors being well established. The aim of this study was to examine the characteristics of negative mood scores and depressive symptom scores in a longitudinal sample of women transitioning from mid-life to late life.

      Study design

      This study was a longitudinal assessment of variables drawn from an epidemiological prospective study of women’s healthy ageing. Scores were analysed using General Linear Mixed Models.

      Main outcome measures

      Negative mood scores derived from the Affectometer 2 were assessed at 11 time points spanning 20 years. Depressive symptom scores were assessed using the Centre for Epidemiological Studies Depression Scale (CESD), administered in 2002, 2004 and 2012.


      Mean negative mood scores reduced significantly between 1992 and 2012, as did mean CESD scores between 2002 and 2012. Mean negative mood scores reduced by 0.007 for each year of increasing age. For depressive symptoms, a reduction in mean score of 0.15 was found for each year of increase in age.


      Depressive symptom scores and negative mood scores decreased significantly over time.


      To read this article in full you will need to make a payment

      Purchase one-time access:

      Academic & Personal: 24 hour online accessCorporate R&D Professionals: 24 hour online access
      One-time access price info
      • For academic or personal research use, select 'Academic and Personal'
      • For corporate R&D use, select 'Corporate R&D Professionals'


      Subscribe to Maturitas
      Already a print subscriber? Claim online access
      Already an online subscriber? Sign in
      Institutional Access: Sign in to ScienceDirect


        • American Psychiatric Association
        Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders: DSM-5.
        5th ed. American Psychiatric Publishing, Arlington, VA2013
        • Stanton K.
        • Watson D.
        Positive and negative affective dysfunction in psychopathology.
        Soc. Pers. Psychol. Compass. 2014; 8: 555-567
        • Watson D.
        • Clark L.A.
        • Stasik S.M.
        Emotions and the emotional disorders: a quantitative hierarchical perspective.
        Int. J. Clin. Health Psychol. 2011; 11: 429-442
        • Carstensen L.L.
        • Fung H.H.
        • Charles S.T.
        Socioemotional selectivity theory and the regulation of emotion in the second half of life.
        Motiv. Emotion. 2003; 27: 103-123
        • Charles S.T.
        • Reynolds C.A.
        • Gatz M.
        Age-related differences and change in positive and negative affect over 23 years.
        J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 2001; 80: 136-151
        • Mroczek D.K.
        • Kolarz C.M.
        The effect of age on positive and negative affect: a developmental perspective on happiness.
        J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 1998; 75: 1333-1349
        • Levenson R.W.
        • Carstensen L.L.
        • Gottman J.M.
        Influence of age and gender on affect, physiology, and their interrelations: a study of long-term marriages.
        J. Pers. Soc. Psychol. 1994; 67: 56-68
        • Diener E.
        • Sandvik E.
        • Larsen R.J.
        Age and sex effects for emotional intensity.
        Dev. Psychol. 1985; 21: 542-546
        • Blazer D.
        • Burchett B.
        • George L.K.
        The association of age and depression among the elderly: an epidemiologic exploration.
        J. Gerontol. 1991; 46: M210-M215
        • Davey A.
        • Halverson C.F.
        • Zonderman A.B.
        • Costa P.T.
        Change in depressive symptoms in the baltimore longitudinal study of aging.
        J. Gerontol. Ser. B: Psychol. Sci. Soc. Sci. 2004; 59B: P270-P277
        • Beekman A.
        • Copeland J.
        • Prince M.
        Review of community prevalence of depression in later life.
        Br. J. Psychiatry. 1999; 174: 307-311
        • Lewinsohn P.M.
        • Seeley J.R.
        • Roberts R.E.
        • Allen N.B.
        Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) as a screening instrument for depression among community-residing older adults.
        Psychol. Aging. 1997; 12: 277-287
        • Yesavage J.A.
        • Brink T.
        • Rose T.L.
        • Lum O.
        • Huang V.
        • Adey M.
        • Leirer V.O.
        Development and validation of a geriatric depression screening scale: a preliminary report.
        J. Psychiatr. Res. 1983; 17: 37-49
        • Yesavage J.A.
        • Sheikh J.I.
        9/Geriatric depression scale (GDS) recent evidence and development of a shorter violence.
        Clin. Gero. 1986; 5: 165-173
        • Maier W.
        • Gänsicke M.
        • Gater R.
        • Rezaki M.
        • Tiemens B.
        • Florenzano Urzúa R.
        Gender differences in the prevalence of depression: a survey in primary care.
        J. Affect. Disord. 1999; 53: 241-252
        • Kessler R.C.
        • Foster C.
        • Webster P.S.
        • House J.S.
        The relationship between age and depressive symptoms in two national surveys.
        Psychol. Aging. 1992; 7: 119-126
        • Perugi G.
        • Musetti L.
        • Simonini E.
        • Piagentini F.
        • Cassano G.
        • Akiskal H.
        Gender-mediated clinical features of depressive illness: the importance of temperamental differences.
        Br. J. Psychiatry. 1990; 157: 835-841
        • Australian Bureau of Statistics
        National Survey of Mental Health and Wellbeing: Summary of Results (No. 4402.0), Canberra, Australia2003
        • Panay N.
        • Studd J.
        The psychotherapeutic effects of estrogens.
        Gynecol. Endocrinol. 1998; 12: 353-365
        • Szoeke C.E.
        • Robertson J.S.
        • Rowe C.C.
        • Yates P.
        • Campbell K.
        • Masters C.L.
        • Ames D.
        • Dennerstein L.
        • Desmond P.
        The Women's Healthy Ageing Project: fertile ground for investigation of healthy participants ‘at risk' for dementia.
        Int. Rev. Psychiatr. 2013; 25: 726-737
        • Dennerstein L.
        • Dudley E.
        • Burger H.
        Well-being and the menopause transition.
        J. Psychosom. Obstet. Gynaecol. 1997; 18: 95-101
        • Dennerstein L.
        • Guthrie J.
        • Clark M.
        • Lehert P.
        • Henderson V.
        A population-based study of depressed mood in middle-aged, Australian-born women.
        Menopause. 2004; 11: 563-568
        • Kammann R.
        • Christie D.
        • Irwin R.
        • Dixon G.
        Properties of an inventory to measure happiness (and psychological health).
        NZ Psychol. 1979; 8: 1-9
        • Kammann R.
        • Flett R.
        Affectometer 2: A scale to measure current level of general happiness.
        Aust. J. Psychol. 1983; 35: 259-265
        • Dennerstein L.
        • Lehert P.
        • Burger H.
        • Dudley E.
        Mood and the menopausal transition.
        J. Nerv. Ment. Dis. 1999; 187: 685-691
        • Andresen E.M.
        • Malmgren J.A.
        • Carter W.B.
        • Patrick D.L.
        Screening for depression in well older adults: evaluation of a short form of the CES-D, American journal of preventive medicine.
        Am. J. Prev. Med. 1994; 10: 77-84
        • Smarr K.L.
        • Keefer A.L.
        Measures of depression and depressive symptoms: beck depression inventory-II (BDI-II), center for epidemiologic studies depression scale (CES-D), geriatric depression scale (GDS), hospital anxiety and depression scale (HADS), and patient health questionnaire-9 (PHQ-9).
        Arthrit. Care Res. 2011; 63: S454-S466
        • Harlow S.D.
        • Gass M.
        • Hall J.E.
        • Lobo R.
        • Maki P.
        • Rebar R.W.
        • Sherman S.
        • Sluss P.M.
        • de Villiers T.J.
        Executive summary of the Stages of Reproductive Aging Workshop+ 10: addressing the unfinished agenda of staging reproductive aging.
        Climacteric. 2012; 15: 105-114
        • McNemar Q.
        Note on the sampling error of the difference between correlated proportions or percentages.
        Psychometrika. 1947; 12: 153-157
        • Edwards A.L.
        Note on the correction for continuity in testing the significance of the difference between correlated proportions.
        Psychometrika. 1948; 13: 185-187
        • VSN International
        GenStat for Windows.
        14th edition. VSN International, Hemel Hempstead, UK2011
        • IBM Corp
        IBM SPSS Statistics for Windows, Version 21.0.
        IBM Corp, Armonk, NY2012
        • Barefoot J.
        • Mortensen E.
        • Helms M.
        • Avlund K.
        • Schroll M.
        A longitudinal study of gender differences in depressive symptoms from age 50 to 80.
        Psychol. Aging. 2001; 16: 342-345
        • Djernes J.
        Prevalence and predictors of depression in populations of elderly: a review.
        Acta Psychiat. Scand. 2006; 113: 372-387
        • Blazer D.G.
        Depression in late life: review and commentary.
        J. Gerontol. Ser. B: Psychol. Sci. Soc. Sci. 2003; 58: M249-M265

      Linked Article