AUG 16, 2020 2:33 PM PDT

Study Says Social Connection Best Way to Prevent Depression

WRITTEN BY: Annie Lennon

Depression is the world's leading source of disability. Now, researchers from Massachusetts General Hospital (MGH) have found that social connection is the strongest protective factor against depression. 

Until recently, researchers have typically focused on just one or two protective factors against depression. Now, new techniques in big data allow researchers to have insights not possible before. 

For the study, the researchers used an exposure-wide association scan (ExWAS) to analyze data from over 100,000 people from the UK Biobank to identify factors associated with the risk of developing depression. These included sleep patterns, diet, physical activity, social interaction, media use, and environmental exposure. They then a technique called Mendelian randomization to calculate which of the strongest modifiable candidates may have a causal relationship with depression. 

"Far and away the most prominent of these factors was frequency of confiding in others, but also visits with family and friends, all of which highlighted the important protective effect of social connection and social cohesion," points out Jordan Smoller, MD, senior author of the study. "These factors are more relevant now than ever at a time of social distancing and separation from friends and family."

The researchers also found that social connection's protective effects remained relevant for people at a higher risk of depression from genetic vulnerability and trauma early on in life. They also found that rates of depression tended to correlate with time spent watching TV, daytime napping, and regular use of multivitamins. However, they say further research is needed to confirm whether the link is causal or simply correlational. 

"We've shown that it's now possible to address these questions of broad public health significance through a large-scale, data-based approach that wasn't available even a few years ago. We hope this work will motivate further efforts to develop actionable strategies for preventing depression." says Smoller. 

 

Sources: Neuroscience NewsPsychiatry Online 

About the Author
  • Science writer with keen interests in technology and behavioral biology. Her current focus is on the interplay between these fields to create meaningful interactions, applications and environments.
You May Also Like
AUG 25, 2020
Neuroscience
Dementia Kills Almost 3 Times More than Previously Thought
AUG 25, 2020
Dementia Kills Almost 3 Times More than Previously Thought
Researchers have found that around 13.6% of deaths in the U.S. may come as the result of dementia. The figure, they say, ...
SEP 13, 2020
Neuroscience
Emotion-Color Associations are the Same Globally
SEP 13, 2020
Emotion-Color Associations are the Same Globally
Researchers from Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz in Germany have found that people, regardless of where they come ...
OCT 13, 2020
Cell & Molecular Biology
A Small Part of the Brain May Transmit Inflammation From Mom to Fetus
OCT 13, 2020
A Small Part of the Brain May Transmit Inflammation From Mom to Fetus
There is still a lot we don't know about the brain, and especially about two small bits of tissue deep within it called ...
OCT 21, 2020
Immunology
CNS's immune cells - Microglia are involved in the exacerbation of MS
OCT 21, 2020
CNS's immune cells - Microglia are involved in the exacerbation of MS
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is one of the most progressive autoimmune diseases that affect the central nervous system where ...
OCT 22, 2020
Immunology
Migraines: Dark Times and (Pharmaceutical) Rays of Hope
OCT 22, 2020
Migraines: Dark Times and (Pharmaceutical) Rays of Hope
Despite being commonly used interchangeably, headaches and migraines are worlds apart. Migraines are by far much more pr ...
OCT 22, 2020
Neuroscience
Psychedelic Experiences Reduce Narcissistic Personality Traits
OCT 22, 2020
Psychedelic Experiences Reduce Narcissistic Personality Traits
Researchers from the UK have found that psychedelic drugs can positively affect narcissistic personality traits- by redu ...
Loading Comments...