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Psychological Effects of Retirement

Updated April 17, 2017

Retirement is the time in your life when you are no longer employed. The retirement age varies, but is usually between 65 and 70. Retirement can be a rich and fulfilling time in which you can relax and follow your dreams and do all the things you never had time to do before. But because retirement is such a big change in an individual's life, it is often associated with psychological changes.

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Stress Levels

Stress is the sense of being under pressure that people often experience at work. The question as to whether stress levels tend to fall after retirement is a complex one. Once people are no longer in jobs they generally have less direct sources of stress and more time for relaxation. However, this tendency may be counteracted by the fact that retired people often face increased health problems, less mobility and less social interaction, all of which may also be stressful. It is difficult to say definitively whether stress increases or decreases after retirement, and a lot depends on the situation of the individual.


Depression is a sense of great sadness that persists for a lengthy period of time. People who have retired tend to suffer more from adverse psychological conditions like depression. This may be due to a reduction in the number of social interactions that retired people engage in. It may also be associated with the loss of a job and the sense of purpose that people often get from their careers. This tendency is offset if the person retiring is married or continues to have an active social life.

General Mental Health

General mental health is more likely to be sustained after retirement if the person is married or retains close contact with friends and family members. There is some evidence that retirement has a greater negative effect on mental health if the retirement is involuntary. There is no evidence of any association between changes in alcohol consumption and retirement. Continuing to engage in exercise and social activities is associated with better psychological and general health. It is helpful if retired people develop a daily routine in which they perform interesting activities, keep busy and engage with family and friends.

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About the Author

Thomas James has been writing professionally since 2008. His work has appeared on the science-fiction blog Futurismic. He writes about technology, economics, management, science fiction, politics and philosophy. James graduated from Trinity Catholic School and holds A-levels in physics, maths, chemistry and an AS-level in English language.

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