Mind & Spirit

Lack of face-to-face contact may double depression risk

By: Tralee Pearce

Getty Images Author: Canadian Living Credits: Getty Images

Mind & Spirit

Lack of face-to-face contact may double depression risk

By: Tralee Pearce
Put down the phone. Step away from the computer. Getting social with family and friends the old-fashioned way—face to face—is better for your mental health.

A new study has found in-person visiting can help stave off the symptoms of depression, especially as we age, while a lack of face-time can dramatically increase your risk.

When phone, online and in-person socializing were compared in a recent study out of Oregon Health and Science University, researchers found direct contact with a friend or loved one was linked with the lowest rates of depression symptoms among study participants over a two-year period.

"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," Alan Teo, the lead author and a professor of psychiatry, said in a press release.

Now, socializing with people we care about has long been a recommendation to prevent and treat depression, but this study drills down even further into the ways we connect. If you’re over 50, having little real social contact can nearly double your risk of having depression two years later, the researchers reported.

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The ideal amount of contact? Researchers found study participants who met up with family and friends at least three times a week had the lowest level of depressive symptoms among study participants at 6.5 percent.

And depending on your age, whom you visit with is a factor, too. When you’re between 50 and 69, visiting with friends is ideal and gives you the most benefit. But people aged 70 and older reap more health rewards from visits with kids and other family members.

This new study adds dimension to other research suggesting that social media and other digital communication can actually have a negative effect on friendships.

Read on to learn about the future of depression treatment and how anti-aging exercises can help you.





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Lack of face-to-face contact may double depression risk

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