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Objective: Depression is a significant global public health burden, and older adults may be particularly vulnerable to its effects. Among other risk factors, interpersonal conflicts, such as perceived criticism from family members, can increase risk for depressive symptoms in this population. We examined family criticism as a predictor of depressive symptoms and the potential moderating effect of optimism and pessimism.

Methods: One hundred five older adult, primary care patients completed self-report measures of family criticism, optimism and pessimism, and symptoms of depression. We hypothesized that optimism and pessimism would moderate the relationship between family criticism and depressive symptoms.

Results: In support of our hypothesis, those with greater optimism and less pessimism reported fewer depressive symptoms associated with family criticism.

Conclusion: Therapeutic enhancement of optimism and amelioration of pessimism may buffer against depression in patients experiencing familial criticism.

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© This document is an author manuscript from PMC. The publisher's final edited version of this article is available at The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry.