Socialising helps to alleviate symptoms of depression

June 14, 2012, University College Dublin

(Medical Xpress) -- Simply going out for a coffee or chatting to a friend can reduce the symptoms of depression experienced by people with mental health problems, according to a new study by UCD researchers funded by the Health Research Board.

“This study shows that conventional treatments can be supplemented by social support from family, friends and the community in the battle against in Ireland,” said the Minister for Disability, Equality, Mental Health and Older People, Ms Kathleen Lynch TD who officially launched the report findings at UCD.

“Increased social interaction helps sufferers to rebuild their self-esteem which in turn enables them to maintain and develop positive relationships and friendships.”

For the study, over 100 adults, who were already receiving conventional treatment for mental , were given additional supports to increase their over a nine month period.

At the beginning of the study, 20% of participants had no contact with friends, 33% reported that they never had contact with neighbours, and 50% never attended social groups. 35% were living alone.

All participants were given a monthly stipend of €20, and encouraged to take part in a social activity for at least two hours every week. Some of the participants were also matched up with a volunteer to create a ‘social friendship’ outside of the constraints of existing relationships. They were also asked to keep a diary of their social activities during the study.

The social activities reported by the participants during the course of the study included: going to a movie, going to a concert or play, going to a gallery or museum, going for a coffee, going out to eat, and enjoying a conversation.

“By the end of the study, all of the participants reported feeling better about themselves, having more confidence to socialise in their community, and experiencing fewer ,” said Dr Ann Sheridan, University College Dublin, the lead author of the study.

The study findings show that taking part in normal social activities outside of the constraints of the mental health system and the home environment, like meeting for a coffee or engaging in conversation, helps people with mental health difficulties to feel less isolated, less stigmatised, and less anxious.

“The evidence from this study is unequivocal,” added Dr Sheridan, a lecturer at the UCD School of Nursing, Midwifery, and Health Systems, University College Dublin.

“Supporting the development of positive relationships and increasing social activity helps with the treatment of mental health difficulties.”

Health Research Board, Chief Executive, Enda Connolly, said: “The outcome of this research is positive and it’s simple; socialising with others helps the recovery process for people with problems. This provides a clear message of hope.”

Explore further: Lifestyle choices keep health all in the mind

More information: The study: “Enabling Recovery: The Benefits of Supporting Socialisation Report of a Randomised Control Trial”:

Related Stories

Lifestyle choices keep health all in the mind

July 28, 2011
Physical activity and being a volunteer assist mental wellbeing, a new ACT research report has found.

Teens with autism face major obstacles to social life outside of school, study finds

November 24, 2011
(Medical Xpress) -- Hanging out with friends after school and on the weekends is a vital part of a teen’s social life. But for adolescents with autism spectrum disorders (ASDs), social activity outside of school is a ...

Knowledge about mental illness increases likelihood of seeking help

June 1, 2011
Increased knowledge about mental illness, attitudes of tolerance toward people with mental illness, and support for providing them with care in the community lead to an increased likelihood of individuals seeking help, according ...

Accepting negative feelings provides emotional relief

February 23, 2012
Many adults suffer from mild to moderate depression and/or anxiety symptoms. This puts them at increased risk of developing a mental disorder. Proactive intervention by the mental health services is therefore crucial if we ...

The stigma of obesity

September 26, 2011
Obesity stigma exists within many workplaces and cultural settings, often having a negative impact on individuals’ health, social behaviours and outcomes.

Recommended for you

Infants are more likely to learn when with a peer

October 16, 2018
Infants are more likely to learn from on-screen instruction when paired with another infant as opposed to viewing the lesson alone, according to a new study.

Researchers use brain cells in a dish to study genetic origins of schizophrenia

October 16, 2018
A study in Biological Psychiatry has established a new analytical method for investigating the complex genetic origins of mental illnesses using brain cells that are grown in a dish from human embryonic stem cells. Researchers ...

Linguistic red flags from Facebook posts can predict future depression diagnoses

October 15, 2018
In any given year, depression affects more than 6 percent of the adult population in the United States—some 16 million people—but fewer than half receive the treatment they need. What if an algorithm could scan social ...

Early changes to synapse gene regulation may cause Alzheimer's disease

October 15, 2018
Alzheimer's disease (AD) is the most common form of dementia, involving memory loss and a reduction in cognitive abilities. Patients with AD develop multiple abnormal protein structures in their brains that are thought to ...

Clues that suggest people are lying may be deceptive, study shows

October 12, 2018
The verbal and physical signs of lying are harder to detect than people believe, a study suggests.

Why don't we understand statistics? Fixed mindsets may be to blame

October 12, 2018
Unfavorable methods of teaching statistics in schools and universities may be to blame for people ignoring simple solutions to statistical problems, making them hard to solve. This can have serious consequences when applied ...

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.