Depression, Pessimism, and Health

Charles S. Carver*, Emily G. Lattie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

2 Scopus citations


Depression is a syndrome involving sadness and doubt, loss of motivation, and the ability to experience enjoyment. Pessimism (the negative pole of the optimism dimension) is a trait consisting of the generalized expectancy of bad outcomes in important life domains; the term hopelessness conveys a similar sense of anticipating bad outcomes. All these characteristics have been implicated as contributors to adverse health outcomes. Pessimism has been related to low persistence at health promotion efforts and to activities that reflect disengagement from life. Pessimism has also been linked to adverse reactions in certain medical events (e.g., coronary artery bypass surgery, heart transplantation) and to cardiovascular disease. Depression has long been related to elevated likelihood of subsequent cardiac death after initial myocardial infarction, and to heart disease more generally. Both pessimism and depression have also been linked to inflammation, which may be a precursor to several health problems. There is evidence that some of these effects are larger among younger than older persons. Future research must focus more on the pathways by which these variables create their influence.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationInternational Encyclopedia of the Social & Behavioral Sciences: Second Edition
PublisherElsevier Inc
Number of pages7
ISBN (Electronic)9780080970875
ISBN (Print)9780080970868
StatePublished - Mar 26 2015


  • Cardiovascular disease
  • Coping
  • Depression
  • Disengagement
  • Health promotion
  • Hopelessness
  • Motivation
  • Optimism
  • Pessimism
  • Physiological reactivity

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences(all)


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