(Health.com) — It’s long been known that elderly people are more prone to depression and other mental-health problems if they live on their own. New research suggests the same pattern may also be found in younger, working-age adults.
In a study of nearly 3,500 men and women ages 30 to 65, researchers in Finland found that people who lived alone were more likely that their peers to receive a prescription for antidepressant drugs. One quarter of people living alone filled an antidepressant prescription during the seven-year study, compared to just 16% of those who lived with spouses, family, or roommates.
“Living alone may be considered a mental-health risk factor,” says lead author Laura Pulkki-Råback, Ph.D., a lecturer at the University of Helsinki’s Institute of Behavioral Sciences. The study was published today in the journal BMC Public Health.
With these questions:
The findings show only an association, not cause and effect, which raises a chicken-or-egg question: Does the experience of living alone lead people to become depressed? Or are the depression-prone more likely to live alone because of their temperament, preference, or difficulty with relationships?