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Humans are social animals with a herding instinct. Proof of this comes from an article from Dr. Laura Pulkki-Raback, who led the research project at the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health. They found that people who live alone are more likely to take antidepressants.
She and her team reviewed data from the Health 2000 Study which provided information on more than 3500 men and women. They found a real risk of developing depression when living alone. This is an important discovery since the number of people living alone is increasing each year.
“This kind of study usually underestimates risk because the people who are at the most risk tend to be the people who are least likely to complete the follow up. We were also not able to judge how common untreated depression was,” said Pulkki-Raback.
They assessed social support, work climate, education, income, employment status and housing conditions, in addition other lifestyle details like smoking habits, alcohol use and physical activity levels. Unfortunately, they could not discern the amount of “self-medication” that might be going on. If people are self-medicating through alcohol, OTCS or illicit drugs, this would not appear in the study and that data would likely increase the numbers.
Living with others, roommates or family members, can provide a sense of support and connection providing a balance to life. For people who life alone, there may be an isolation, lack of trust in others, or even the fear of social awkwardness. All marks of mental health problems.
People living alone bought 80% more antidepressants than others. It's useful for health providers to know and for people to be aware of as they consider their living arrangements.
Source: MedicalNewsToday, BMC Public Health
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