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Technology increases chances of depression

HealthBy Sunday World
Technology increases chances of depression

Relying on staying in touch with loved ones via text messages and emails can double the risk of mental illness, according to a new report.

Those who insist on digital contact rather than face-to-face meetings will increase their chances of depression, while those who see loved ones three times a week are less likely to fall victim to the mental health problem.

“Research has long-supported the idea that strong social bonds strengthen people's mental health,” said Dr Alan Teo, lead author of the study, from Oregon Health and Science University. “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.”

11,000 adults aged 50 and older in the US were assessed by his team for the longitudinal Health and Retirement Study at the University of Michigan.

In their research, which was published online in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society, the team found that all forms of socialisation are not equal in how they fulfil a person.

“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,” he continued.

After analysing the frequency of face-to-face, telephone and written social contact, the researchers looked at the risk of depression two years later.

While they took into account factors including health status, how close people lived to family as well as pre-existing depression; they found that little face-to-face social contact nearly doubles a person's risk of having depression two years on.

The participants who met up with loved ones at least three times a week had the lowest level of depressive symptoms two years later at 6.5 per cent. Meanwhile those who met up with their nearest and dearest every few months or less had an 11.5 per cent chance of depression.

Relying on staying in touch with loved ones via text messages and emails can double the risk of mental illness, according to a new report.

Those who insist on digital contact rather than face-to-face meetings will increase their chances of depression, while those who see loved ones three times a week are less likely to fall victim to the mental health problem.

“Research has long-supported the idea that strong social bonds strengthen people's mental health,” said Dr Alan Teo, lead author of the study, from Oregon Health and Science University. “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.”

11,000 adults aged 50 and older in the US were assessed by his team for the longitudinal Health and Retirement Study at the University of Michigan.

After analysing the frequency of face-to-face, telephone and written social contact, the researchers looked at the risk of depression two years later.

While they took into account factors including health status, how close people lived from family as well as pre-existing depression; they found that little face-to-face social contact nearly doubles a person's risk of having depression two years on.

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