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Retirement May Ease Fatigue, Depression

But it does not appear to have any effect on the prevalence of chronic disease

WEDNESDAY, Nov. 24 (HealthDay News) -- Retirement from work appears to have no influence on the prevalence of chronic disease, but it does appear to lessen physical and mental fatigue and depressive symptoms, particularly in those with chronic diseases prior to retirement, according to research published online Nov. 23 in BMJ.

Hugo Westerlund, Ph.D., of Stockholm University in Sweden, and colleagues observed the prevalence of respiratory disease, diabetes, coronary heart disease and stroke, mental fatigue, and physical fatigue in 11,246 men and 2,858 women seven years before and seven years after retirement to see if retirement influenced the risk of incident chronic diseases, depression, and fatigue.

The researchers found that the prevalence of chronic diseases increased with the subjects' age and that the trend did not break around retirement, but the prevalence of mental and physical fatigue decreased substantially with retirement (odds ratios for mental and physical fatigue one year after retirement versus one year before, 0.19 and 0.27, respectively). Retirement was also associated with a major decrease in depressive symptoms (odds ratio, 0.60). The decrease in fatigue was most notable in those who experienced chronic disease before retirement.

"Our results indicate that fatigue may be an underlying reason for early exit from the labor market and decreased productivity and that redesign of work, health care interventions, or both may be necessary to enable a larger proportion of older people to work in full health. Future research should investigate the generalizability of the findings to other countries and settings," the authors write.

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