Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Risk of depression influenced by quality of relationships

Date:
April 30, 2013
Source:
University of Michigan Health System
Summary:
After analyzing data from nearly 5,000 American adults, researchers found that the quality of a person’s relationships with a spouse, family and friends predicted the likelihood of major depression disorder in the future, regardless of how frequently their social interactions took place.

The mantra that quality is more important than quantity is true when considering how social relationships influence depression, say U-M researchers in a new study.

Related Articles


After analyzing data from nearly 5,000 American adults, the researchers found that the quality of a person's relationships with a spouse, family and friends predicted the likelihood of major depression disorder in the future, regardless of how frequently their social interactions took place.

Individuals with strained and unsupportive spouses were significantly more likely to develop depression, whereas those without a spouse were at no increased risk. And those with the lowest quality relationships had more than double the risk of depression than those with the best relationships.

The study, which was published online today in PLOS ONE, assessed the quality of social relationships on depression over a 10-year period, and is one of the first to examine the issue in a large, broad population over such a long time period.

Nearly 16 percent of Americans experience major depression disorder at some point in their lives, and the condition can increase the risk for and worsen conditions like coronary artery disease, stroke and cancer.

"Our study shows that the quality of social relationships is a significant risk factor for major depression," says psychiatrist Alan Teo, M.D., M.S., a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Clinical Scholar at U-M and the study's lead author. "This is the first time that a study has identified this link in the general population."

Digging deeper into the results, the researchers found that certain positive and negative aspects of relationships also predicted depression. Social strain and a lack of support -- especially in spousal relationships and to some extent with family members -- were both risk factors for developing depression later.

"These results tell us that health care providers need to remember that patients' relationships with their loved ones likely play a central role in their medical care," Teo says. "They also suggest that the broader use of couples therapy might be considered, both as a treatment for depression and as a preventative measure."

While the results confirmed the researchers' assumptions about relationship quality, they did not find a correlation between the frequency of social interactions and the prevalence of depression as predicted. Even if participants were socially isolated, having few interactions with family and friends, it did not predict depression risk. Teo says this finding should also translate to mental health treatment considerations.

"Asking a patient how she rates her relationship with her husband, rather than simply asking whether she has one, should be a priority," Teo says.

The researchers say that the study's significant effect size -- one in seven adults with the lowest-quality relationships will develop depression, as opposed to just one in 15 with the highest quality relationships -- indicates the potential for substantial change in the general population.

"The magnitude of these results is similar to the well-established relationship between biological risk factors and cardiovascular disease," Teo says. "What that means is that if we can teach people how to improve the quality of their relationships, we may be able to prevent or reduce the devastating effects of clinical depression."


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by University of Michigan Health System. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. Alan R. Teo, HwaJung Choi, Marcia Valenstein. Social Relationships and Depression: Ten-Year Follow-Up from a Nationally Representative Study. PLOS ONE, 30 Apr 2013 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0062396

Cite This Page:

University of Michigan Health System. "Risk of depression influenced by quality of relationships." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 30 April 2013. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130430194037.htm>.
University of Michigan Health System. (2013, April 30). Risk of depression influenced by quality of relationships. ScienceDaily. Retrieved January 30, 2015 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130430194037.htm
University of Michigan Health System. "Risk of depression influenced by quality of relationships." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2013/04/130430194037.htm (accessed January 30, 2015).

Share This


More From ScienceDaily



More Mind & Brain News

Friday, January 30, 2015

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Binge-Watching TV Linked To Loneliness

Binge-Watching TV Linked To Loneliness

Newsy (Jan. 29, 2015) Researchers at University of Texas at Austin found a link between binge-watching TV shows and feelings of loneliness and depression. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Signs You Might Be The Passive Aggressive Friend

Signs You Might Be The Passive Aggressive Friend

BuzzFeed (Jan. 28, 2015) "No, I&apos;m not mad. Why, are you mad?" Video provided by BuzzFeed
Powered by NewsLook.com
City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

City Divided: A Look at Model Schools in the TDSB

The Toronto Star (Jan. 27, 2015) Model schools are rethinking how they engage with the community to help enhance the lives of the students and their parents. Video provided by The Toronto Star
Powered by NewsLook.com
Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Man Saves Pennies For 65 Years

Rooftop Comedy (Jan. 26, 2015) A man in Texas saved every penny he found for 65 years, and this week he finally cashed them in. Bank tellers at Prosperity Bank in Slaton, Texas were shocked when Ira Keys arrived at their bank with over 500 pounds of loose pennies stored in coffee cans. After more than an hour of sorting and counting, it turned out the 81 year-old was in possession of 81,600 pennies, or $816. And he&apos;s got more at home! Video provided by Rooftop Comedy
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:

Strange & Offbeat Stories


Health & Medicine

Mind & Brain

Living & Well

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins