Living Alone, Living Depressed

From CNN:

(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?

 

About Scot McKnight

Scot McKnight is a recognized authority on the New Testament, early Christianity, and the historical Jesus. McKnight, author of more than forty books, is the Professor of New Testament at Northern Seminary in Lombard, IL.

  • http://Kyleflubacker.com Kyle

    Both. A significant component of depression is distorted beliefs about the world and oneself in relation to that world, and living in isolation or being emotionally disconnected from surrounding people reduces or even removes the ability to test these beliefs and gather counter evidence that could reshape these inaccuracies into something more healthful and representative of reality. Even at a sub-clinical level, where the odd catastrophic thought creeps in, being without human contact grows the import and supposed truthfulness of our ruminations, and our askew beliefs can overrun the others, leading to the onset of a full-blown depression. Once mired in depression, a person can feel as if the rejection of others is inevitable, that the external world is merely an opportunity to further crush one already despairing, and so the safe gambit is to avoid that added pain by remaining in hibernation until someone or something makes a convincing case otherwise. And yet even in extreme cases there exists a useful amount of self-doubt: calling loved ones, visiting doctors, even suicide attempts as cries for help can be relatively low cost attempts to confirm or disconfirm the usefulness and justifiability of self-rejection. Many cases of severe depression are self-limiting because of these fail-safes.

  • JamesT

    I’m sixty five years old. I’ve been widowed for 18 years and, since my son has been out of the house 8 years ago, I have lived alone. I love it! There are a few days a year I get lonely, but hardly depressed. The vast majority of the time I’m so busy I don’t have time to be depressed

    I’ve been retired for 8 years. After I retired I went to seminary for three years and now minister as an interim pastor.

    I do think some people do crave a close daily relationship, but not everyone, certainly not me. I think the key is, probably, have something to replace a spouse, like volunteering, a hobby or job.
    Life is good!


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