Last Updated on May 19, 2023
— People who live alone are nearly 80 percent more likely to develop depression than those who live with others, new research suggests.
Over the past three decades, the number of people living alone in the United States has doubled to one in three.
The study involved 3,500 working-age men and women in Finland who were followed for seven years. The researchers looked at the participants’ health, sociodemographic and psychosocial risk factors, living arrangements and antidepressant use, such as lack of exercise, heavy drinking and smoking.
Risk factors for men included too little support at work or in their personal lives, and heavy drinking.
“This type of study generally underestimates risk because the people who are most at risk tend to be the people who are least likely to complete the follow-up,” study author Laura Pulkki-Raback, of the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health in Helsinki, said in a journal news release. “We were also unable to assess how common untreated depression was.”
More than half of the increased threat remains unexplained, the researchers noted. Possible factors include feelings of alienation from society, lack of trust or difficulties due to major life challenges.
These findings highlight the importance of social connections and support systems in mental health. Living alone may limit opportunities for social interaction, which can impact an individual’s emotional well-being. If you or someone you know is living alone and experiencing symptoms of depression or mental distress, it is advisable to seek support from mental health professionals or community resources.