Living alone can be associated with independence and positive feelings, but a new study suggests that living without roommates could actually increase the risk for developing depression.
The study results showed that people who lived alone bought more antidepressants than people who lived with roommates.
“These data suggest that people living alone may be at increased risk of developing mental health problems,” according to the study conclusion. “The public health value is in recognizing that people who live alone are more likely to have material and psychosocial problems that may contribute to excess mental health problems in this population group.”
The data was taken from a health study in 2000, and from national prescription registers. There was data for 1,695 men and 1,776 women from Finland used in the study, with an average age of 44.6.
Experts have different insight into the use of the study, and what it means for people who live alone.
Ray Erickson, a clinical social worker, said he has worked for years with people who have depression and also suffered from depression when he lived alone.
“For people who are prone to depression, living alone can definitely be a contributing factor in developing depression,” Erickson said in an email. “The lack of social contact is a primary influence within the limbic system. Humans need human stimulation for a balanced life.”
Social interaction tends to be more limited for people who live alone, which can contribute to the likelihood of developing depression. To counteract this, Erickson suggests taking a class or going to the gym, as well as heading outside for a walk.
“Staying in contact with friends is very important, and if necessary the person with depression may need to ask their friends to call them and invite them to things, although while in the throes of depression I refused to answer these calls,” Erickson said.
Living alone doesn’t always lead to depression though, and there are various reasons for this.
“All of us have a different ‘resilience’ quotient, and some people are simply more resilient to depression than others,” Erickson said.