People with sweet childhood memories, especially fond relationships with parents, tend to have less depression and fewer chronic illness as older adults, according to a research published on Monday in the journal Health Psychology.
"We found that good memories seem to have a positive effect on health and well-being, possibly through the ways that they reduce stress or help us maintain healthy choices in life," said the lead author of the study William J. Chopik from Michigan State University.
The researchers used data from more than 22,000 participants in two studies. The first one followed adults in their mid-40s for 18 years and the second followed adults 50 and over for 6 years.
The surveys included questions about perceptions of parental affection, overall health, chronic conditions and depressive symptoms.
Participants in both groups who reported remembering higher levels of affection from their mothers in early childhood experienced better physical health and fewer depressive symptoms later in life.
Those who reported memories with more support from their fathers also experienced fewer depressive symptoms, according to Chopik.
However, Chopik's team found that participants with positive childhood memories had fewer chronic conditions in the first study of 7,100 people, but not in the second study of 15,200, making the results less straightforward.