Get Social and Decrease Depression Risk

Depression is an increased risk for those who are living alone

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) In the past 30 years, the number of people living alone in the U.S. has doubled. One in three people live alone. There may be negative consequences - people living alone are at an increased risk for developing depression.

Recent research has linked living alone to a number of other social and economic factors that increase risk for depression. Overall, those that live alone are 80 percent more likely begin using antidepressant medication than those who do not.

"Find local clubs or support groups to increase social engagement."

"Our study shows that people living alone have an increased risk of developing depression,” notes Laura Pulkki-Råback, Psy.D., from the University of Helsinki, Finland.

For the study, the team followed 1,695 men and 1,776 women for seven years. The average age of the participants was 45 years old.

The researchers compared living arrangements with psychological, social, and health risk factors - including smoking, consuming alcohol, and low physical activity. They also monitored antidepressant use.

Of the participants, 14.5 percent reported living alone and 17.2 percent used antidepressants at some point during the seven year study. Those who lived alone were 80 percent more likely to have used antidepressants.

The researchers found that living alone was associated with other factors that may also contribute to depression. They estimate that 42 percent of the risk of depression was from social, psychological, and health factors.

“Poor housing conditions (especially for women) and a lack of social support (particularly for men) were the main contributory factors to this increased risk," adds Pulkki-Råback.

However, the remaining risk was from unknown factors. The researchers believe that the remaining risk may be caused by feelings of alienation, lack of trust, and lack of support in dealing with life-events. However, more research is necessary.

The study was published online March 23rd, 2012, in the journal BMC Public Health and funded by the Academy of Finland and the University of Helsinki. The authors report that none of the funding sources had any role in study design, interpretation of data, or in the writing of the

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
March 23, 2012
Last Updated:
March 24, 2012