Depression Symptoms Alleviated By Social Groups

    March 25, 2014
    Chris Tepedino
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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.

Image via Wikimedia Commons

  • https://www.kmanthie.wordpress.com kmanthie

    REAL Depression can’t just be “cured” by, say, going out bar-hopping or to some social event, where you’re forced to be around people. One of the things about having depression (real, “clinical”, “DSM-V” depression) is not the same thing as “feeling depressed” – oh, because you’re dog died or a family member died or you lost your job – those are all horrible things, but the reaction is a normal one to those situations. Suffering from major depression – especially, if you’re one of those who do not get affected by any anti-depressant medications and so, nothing helps – that won’t be alleviated by going out and being around people, especially if you also suffer from anxiety, which will likely make being around a lot of people – unless it’s like 1 person that you really trust and want to be around – will make you feel awful and you can’t wait to get back home and isolate and be alone again.

  • T

    Um, DUH- people often go through depression when they feel disconnected from something (a breakup, a move, a job loss, a loss of a friend or family member). Identifying with a group is obvious. If only it were that easy to just find a group to identify with when you are going through these symptoms. When you are missing feeling productive, going to yoga is not going to be a long term fix for missing the job or career that is gone…

  • bri