Age differences in the experience of worry

R. L. Babcock, L. B. Laguna, K. D. Laguna, D. A. Urusky

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


The experience of worry has been linked with a variety of anxiety-related phenomena, including insomnia, depression, obsessive-compulsive behavior, and attention problems. Worry is also the cardinal feature of generalized anxiety disorder. Although it seems reasonable to assume that older adults have more to worry about than younger adults (e.g., declining health, loss of concentration), there is evidence from previous research that healthy older adults have low levels of worry. However, it is not yet understood why worry levels differ between older and younger adults. This study investigated the relationship of life stress, social support, and demographic variables to worry in samples of young adults (N = 40, ages 18-26) and older adults (N = 40, ages 59-87). Results replicate previous findings that older adults report lower levels of worry than young adults. In addition, results indicate that for the older group, worry was related to satisfaction with one's social support network as well as income level. For the younger group, worry was not related to any of the hypothesized predictors of worry. A measure of stressful life events was not significantly related to worry for either age group. The results of this study have important implications for understanding the phenomenon of worry and how it may differ qualitatively for older versus young adults.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)227-235
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Mental Health and Aging
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2000


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