Study Links Working Post-Retirement is Linked to Mental Health

Most people who retain steady careers throughout their lives spend a fair amount of time thinking about, and planing for, their eventual retirement. Hailed as a momentous and positive occasion, retirement is often considered in terms of its potential to allow for some much-needed relaxation and personal time following a lengthy dedication to one’s work. But a number of people may find that once they’ve retired, the sense of purpose with which they worked is absent, and this sudden absence may lead to feelings of depression and other negative emotions. To stay active and socially involved, some pensioners may choose to participate in local clubs or groups, but a study recently conducted at the University of Maryland suggests that going back to work may be just the thing for preserving mental health.

The study is unique in that while other academic efforts have linked working after retirement to the enjoyment of improved mental health, controls have not been in place to determine whether pre-existing health benefits were enjoyed by those who scored higher ostensibly as a result of the continued work. This study made the effort to incorporate precisely such controls, enabling the researchers to conclude that working after retirement does in fact improve mental health.

Among those who received a positive boost from their work, those employed in fields similar to those in which they spent their lifelong careers enjoyed the greatest mental health benefits. Though it may be difficult for some retirees to summon the energy to return to work after retirement, full workweeks and the comprehensive rigors of labor may not be necessary in order to reap rewards from staying employed. Further research on the parameters of prescription work for mental health may be necessary to determine what methodologies are most effective.

© Copyright 2009 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.

The preceding article was solely written by the author named above. Any views and opinions expressed are not necessarily shared by GoodTherapy.org. Questions or concerns about the preceding article can be directed to the author or posted as a comment below.

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  • SIMON DOUGLAS

    SIMON DOUGLAS

    October 23rd, 2009 at 10:40 AM

    Working after retirement if a person likes to do so is a good thing, but it might well be a thing of need for many in these times of recession.

  • ronald joseph

    ronald joseph

    October 23rd, 2009 at 10:46 AM

    No doubt work keeps a person’s mental and physical health in a good condition, but relaxation is also a good thing after retirement…hence, a part-time job or a job with shorter work-hours is best suited for such people.

    It will satisfy their need to work and also give them ample time to relax and unwind.

  • celine

    celine

    October 23rd, 2009 at 3:02 PM

    Mental health remains good when the person is happy… whether he/she is working or is following a hobby that he/she could not follow earlier due to time constraints. Its all in the state of mind!

  • SNOW

    SNOW

    October 24th, 2009 at 2:29 AM

    My father retires in two years and he has already planned on working after retirement, for atleast two more years. He says he wants to keep himself occupied and healthy and this article will be good news to him.

  • Amy

    Amy

    October 24th, 2009 at 9:24 AM

    When my father in law retied a few years ago he did experience a period of depression because he did not have those responsibilities anymore that left him feeling important. He thought retirement would be great but turned out it really was not the best decision for him at that time. Luckily he found a little part time job that kept him active and gave him something more to do and he felt better almost immediately.

  • fred

    fred

    October 26th, 2009 at 4:22 AM

    I retired from my regular job about an year ago, and am now looking for a job. I was very involved in my work, and it felt like I was leading an aimless life once I retired. Now I’m looking to work part-time, like 4 hours a day to keep myself metally-fit and self-confident.

  • Bryan Knight

    Bryan Knight

    October 31st, 2009 at 7:42 AM

    Yes. Continuing to see clients for me certainly keeps me alert and feeling that I’m doing something worthwhile.

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