Depression is caused by a myriad of internal and external factors ranging from home life to genetics, but fortunately, a range of external factors can also work to reduce depression. Concerned about rising depression during pandemic lockdowns, a group of researchers looked at data from 100,000 participants and analyzed external factors to determine that social connection and confiding in others was the most influential factor for reducing depression symptoms.
Among the external factors analyzed were social interaction, media use, sleep patterns, diet, physical activity, and environmental exposures. Co-author of the study Jordan Smoller, M.D., ScD, said, “Far and away the most prominent of these factors was frequency of confiding in others but also visits with family and friends.” Although the pandemic has limited our face to face contact, communicating and empathizing with loved ones virtually can also satisfy that ache for human connection.
It has long been understood that humans are social creatures and crave interaction with others, so it’s not surprising that it plays a big role in mitigating depression. If you’re feeling down these days, take the time to have a meaningful conversation with a friend or family member to chat honestly about your experience. Most likely, you’ll leave the conversation feeling a bit more optimistic about the world around you.