Spend time with friends to ward off risk of depression

Turns out, being connected to your friends and family while avoiding watching too much television can reduce your risk of depression.

Recent research published in The American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that social connection is the strongest protection against depression. It has noted that factors such as watching TV for too long, indulging in prolonged napping during the day, and following a sedentary lifestyle can increase the chances of depression.

Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, but until now researchers have focused on only a handful of risks and protective factors, often in just one or two domains,” says Karmel Choi, Ph.D., an investigator in the Department of Psychiatry and the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and lead author of the paper. 

“Our study provides the most comprehensive picture to date of modifiable factors that could impact depression risk”, he continued.

The researchers systematically scan a wide range of modifiable factors that might be associated with the risk of developing depression, including social interaction, media use, sleep patterns, diet, physical activity, and environmental exposures.

Mendelian randomization (MR) was used to investigate which factors may have a causal relationship to depression risk. MR is a statistical method that treats genetic variation between people as a kind of natural experiment to determine whether an association is likely to reflect causation rather than just correlation.

Building a bond with your family can also keep depression away, says the study “The most prominent of these factors was not only the frequency of confiding in others, but also visits with family and friends, all of which highlighted the important protective effect of social connection and social cohesion,” points out Jordan Smoller, MD, Associate Chief for research in the MGH Department of Psychiatry, and senior author of the study.

“These factors are more relevant now than ever at a time of social distancing and separation from friends and family.”

The study delved deeper into some factors associated with depression
These are the factors associated with depression risk which include time spent watching TV, though the authors note that additional research is needed to determine if that risk was due to media exposure particularly, or whether time in front of the TV was a proxy for being sedentary. (Source: healthshots.com)

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