12:22 am - Thursday January 24, 2019

New Research: Depression at Peak for Loners

The risk of depression, measured by people taking antidepressants, is almost eightyRisk of Depression is higher for People Living Alone percent higher for those living alone compared to people living in any kind of social or family group, New research published in BioMed Central’s open access journal BMC Public Health shows.

Over the last three decades the number of people living on their own has doubled, to one in three in the US & UK.

A third of this risk, for women, was attributable to socio demographic factors, such as lack of education and low income.

The biggest contributing factors for men included poor job climate, heavy drinking & lack of support at the work place or in their private lives.

Little is known about the effects of isolation on working age people, though it is known that living alone can increase the risk of mental health problems for the elderly, and for single parents.

Three thousand five hundred working-aged men and women were followed by researchers in Finland for seven years.

They compared their living arrangements with psychosocial, socio demographic, and health risk factors, including smoking, heavy drinking and low physical activity, to antidepressant use. The National Prescription Register provided information on antidepressant medication.

“Our study shows that people living alone have an increased risk of developing depression. Overall there was no difference in the increased risk of depression by living alone for either men or women. Poor housing conditions (especially for women) and a lack of social support (particularly for men) were the main contributory factors to this increased risk”, Dr Laura P, who conducted the research at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health, explained.

“This kind of study usually underestimates risk because the people who are at the most risk tend to be the people who are least likely to complete the follow up. We also were not able to judge how common untreated depression was”, she continued.

Although this study clearly identifies some of the factors which increase the risk of depression for people who live alone, over half the increase in risks still remain unexplained.

This may be due to feelings of alienation from society, lack of trust, or difficulties arising from critical life events, the researchers suggest.

In order to begin understanding and reducing the incidence of depression amongst working age people, all these factors need to be addressed.

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