Depression Symptoms Alleviated By Social GroupsBy: Chris Tepedino - March 25, 2014
Researchers have found in a new study that social identification can reduce symptoms of depression in clinical and community settings.
Depression, a debilitating mental illness, is characterized by feelings of lethargy, hopelessness, and worthlessness, among other symptoms. It strikes at many different ages and in people of all different sorts of backgrounds and is a leading cause of disability, according to WebMD.
But in a study called “Feeling connected again: Interventions that increase social identification reduce depression symptoms in community and clinical settings,” researchers found that increasing the social identification of depressed patients through social interaction can lead to a reduction in depression symptoms.
For the study, researchers created what is called a “longitudinal intervention” method, where patients were exposed to social interaction over a course of time throughout the study.
In the first study, 52 adults diagnosed with depression joined a community recreation group, where activities included sewing, yoga, sports, and art. In the second study, 92 adults diagnosed with depression joined a clinical psychotherapy group.
The purpose of the study was to analyze social identification, which researchers admitted was a psychological and difficult to understand topics. They measured it through surveys, by asking participants in the study whether they identified with the group or not.
In both studies, according to Science Daily, patients who did not identify strongly with the groups had a 50 percent chance of continued depression symptoms. But those who identified strongly with the groups and used first person pronouns such as “we” and “us” rather than third person pronouns such as “them” to describe the other group members, less than a third of those participants met the diagnostic criteria for depression when the studies were finished.
In both studies, social identification led to a recovery from depression when holding for factors such as attendance, severity of depression, and group type. In Study Two, the benefits of social interaction were larger for depression symptoms rather than anxiety symptoms or quality of life.
The conclusion of the study is that facilitating social participation would be a cost-effective and generally effective way to treat depression.
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