Face-time helps to ward off depression

Replacing face-to-face contact with friends and family with emails, text messages and phone calls could increase the risk of depression for older people, a major study suggests.

Research on 11,000 adults by Michigan University reported in the Daily Telegraph found that those who meet friends and family at least three times a week are far less likely to suffer from depression. But Individuals who had such contact just once every few months had more than a 10% of later suffering from depressive symptoms two years later.

On the other hand, those who met up with family and friends at least three times a week showed the least signs of depression..

Adults aged 50 and over were tracked for more than two years. While strong links were found between face-to-face contact and depression, regularity of contact with loved-ones by telephone, email or social media was shown to make no difference.

Researchers found that that all forms of socialisation aren’t equal. Phone calls and digital communication, with friends or family members, do not have the same power as face-to-face social interactions in helping to stave off depression.

The study found that, at different ages, participants benefited from different relationships. The researchers found that among adults aged 50 to 69, frequent face-to-face contact with friends reduced the risk of subsequent depression.

Researchers reported that having more or fewer phone conversations, or written or email contact, had no effect on depression.

They found that all forms of socialisation aren’t equal: phone calls and digital communication with friends or family members, do not have the same power as face-to-face social interactions in helping to stave off depression.

The study found that, at different ages, participants benefited from different relationships. The researchers found that among adults aged 50 to 69, frequent face-to-face contact with friends reduced the risk of subsequent depression.

Among those aged 70 and over, contact with children and other family members had the greatest impact.

The researchers concluded that “Research has long supported the idea that strong social bonds strengthen people’s mental health. But this is the first look at the role that the type of communication with loved ones and friends plays in safeguarding people from depression.”

As a counsellor and therapist in the Hastings area, I can support these research findings from my practical experience.  My work with a wide range of clients shows a strong link between emotional health and the quality of social contact.

added at 12:12am on 8th December 2015

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