Group bonding halts depression for all walks of life

August 25, 2014
Group bonding halts depression for all walks of life
Becoming a part of a social group can significantly reduce the effects of depression.

(Medical Xpress)—Becoming a part of a social group can significantly reduce the effects of depression, according to new research from The University of Queensland.

Research led by Dr Tegan Cruwys and Professor Alex Haslam from UQ's School of Psychology has found that building strong social relationships is key to treating and preventing clinical .

The research brings hope to disadvantaged groups in particular, as depression is more common among groups for whom the cost and availability of medical and psychological treatments may be prohibitive.

Dr Cruwys said the studies showed that people who regularly interacted and identified with a social experienced an improved quality of life and a substantial decrease in or cure of their depression.

"Clinical depression, which affects 6.2 per cent of Australians in any given year and up to 20 per cent of the population sometime in their life, is often preceded by social withdrawal," she said.

"By joining a group, people are provided with exactly what they lack when they are depressed – a sense of belonging, a sense of meaning and purpose, and a source of social support."

"The results place accessible and cost-effective treatment in the hands of everyone without the stigma of seeking psychological treatment or suffering the side-effects of anti-depressants," Dr Cruwys said.

Researchers asked participants at high risk of developing depression to join a community recreation group such as a sporting, sewing or art group.

Other participants diagnosed with depression took part in group therapy sessions at a local hospital.

Three months later, both groups were surveyed to determine whether any participants had experienced an improvement in their depression.

Professor Haslam said the results provided clear evidence that joining groups, and coming to identify with them, could alleviate depression.

"For those who felt connected and part of a recreation group, less than one third were still depressed at the end of the study, whereas for those who did not identify with the group, more than half remained depressed," he said.

"Our findings suggest that it does not necessarily matter what type of group you belong to, as long as you feel connected to it."

"The key to stopping depression is being part of the group and having the group be part of you," he said.

The research is published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

More information: "Feeling connected again: Interventions that increase social identification reduce depression symptoms in community and clinical settings." Tegan Cruwys, et al. Journal of Affective Disorders. Volume 159, Pages 139–146, April 20, 2014 DOI: dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2014.02.019

Related Stories

Higher emergency admissions for depressed older men

December 10, 2012

(Medical Xpress)—Depressed older men are twice as likely as those not suffering depression to be admitted to hospital, according to a study published today in the Canadian Medical Association Journal.

Social groups alleviate depression

March 19, 2014

Building a strong connection to a social group helps clinically depressed patients recover and helps prevent relapse, according to a new study.

Treating depression in Parkinson's patients

April 18, 2014

A group of scientists from the University of Kentucky College of Medicine and the Sanders-Brown Center on Aging has found interesting new information in a study on depression and neuropsychological function in Parkinson's ...

Depression often untreated in Parkinson's disease

August 15, 2014

Depression is known to be a common symptom of Parkinson's disease, but remains untreated for many patients, according to a new study by Northwestern Medicine investigators in collaboration with the National Parkinson's Foundation ...

Recommended for you

Neural efficiency hypothesis confirmed

July 27, 2015

One of the big questions intelligence researchers grapple with is just how differences in intelligence are reflected in the human brain. Researchers at ETH Zurich have succeeded in studying further details relating to suspected ...

Fatherhood makes men fat

July 21, 2015

All those leftover pizza crusts you snatch from your kids' plates add up. Men gain weight after they become fathers for the first time whether or not they live with their children, reports a large, new Northwestern Medicine ...

Words jump-start vision, psychologist's study shows

July 21, 2015

Cognitive scientists have come to view the brain as a prediction machine, constantly comparing what is happening around us to expectations based on experience—and considering what should happen next.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.