How to Reduce Depression With Social Connections
Technology is a fact of life. That isn’t going to change anytime soon.
Computers, laptops, cell phones. It’s everywhere and it can affect our behavior in a variety of ways. Both good and bad.
Education for instance. There are some times when old school methods can out perform the new school.
How technology can affects our relationships is another theme I see over and over. Recently, I talked about how it can get in the way of romance.
Along those same lines, a new report finds that the best types of social interaction continue to be more traditional. The ones where we are face to face with another human being.
In Your Face
Social interaction is also one of the pillars of brain health.
One of its main benefits is how connecting with others guards against depression. It’s also been known to help speed recovery of depression when you’re feeling blue.
A recent study was published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society that looked further into the topic. In fact, it was the first research to examine how the type of social interaction matters.
Alan Teo was the lead author behind the study. He is also an assistant professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health and Science University. Together with his team, they analyzed over 11,000 people that were over the age of 50.
The researchers kept tabs on 3 types of personal communication. In-person, written or email contact, and phone conversations. They first got a baseline for how often the participants communicated with others. Once they had an idea of the frequency of their interactions, they followed up with the participants two years later.
Finally, they adjusted for factors like health, pre-existing depression, and proximity of family and friends. Then came the fun part.
What were the effects of the different types of communication?
They did, indeed, notice a few interesting things.
The most notable finding from the scientists was that having very little face to face interaction were more at risk for depression two years later.
Participants who visited with friends and family at least 3 times a week had the lowest risk for depression. The subjects who only met with others once every few months or longer nearly doubled their chances of depression.
That was for in-person visits. What about phone calls and email?
Results for these two types of communication weren’t so spectacular. They found no difference in risk of depression between those who had the most interactions and those who received the least. This was true for both phone calls and written communications.
Scientists also discovered it made a difference who you did the socializing with.
For people from 50-69, it was contact with friends that reduced the risk of depression. But for those 70 and older, it was seeing children and family members that did the trick.
We were born to be social. The fact that it keeps us mentally and physically healthy says a lot.
Even though this research only studied older generations, friends and family matter no matter what your age.
Life gives us a lot of priorities. Both professionally and personally. Balance among those priorities is not easy, but it’s necessary for a healthy brain and a happy life. Being ambitious isn’t a bad thing, but cultivating personal relationships should always be a top priority too.