According to a longitudinal analysis titled, “Internet Use and Depression among Retired Older Adults in the United States,” depression rates among retirees can be cut by nearly 30 percent just by going online.
The Mayo Clinic defines depression as a mood disorder associated with persistent feeling of sadness, hopelessness, and loss of interest.
Prolonged bouts of mild, moderate, and severe depression can lead to a variety of emotional and physical problems, as well as inspiring some sufferers to entertain suicidal thoughts.
Late-life depression affects nearly 10 million Americans age 50 and older, often caused by loneliness. Loneliness is the unpleasant emotional response to isolation, or lack of satisfying relationships.
The causes of loneliness can vary and include social, mental, or emotional factors. Moving or the sudden death of a loved one can precipitate loneliness.
Regardless of race, gender, and socioeconomic status, loneliness can afflict anyone. And like any stressor, can take an emotional and physical toll on the body.
Researchers have found that spending some time online may stave off depression among the elderly, especially among those who live alone.
Data was collected in four waves from the Health and Retirement Study, a longitudinal survey obtaining information from more than 22,000 older Americans every two years, explains Medical Xpress.
The sample used included 3,075 respondents who were observed from 2002 to 2008. This resulted in a total of 12,300 observations.
Depression was measured using an eight-item version of the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale.
Participants answered questions regarding their use of the Internet such as for sending and receiving email, or for other purposes. For example, earlier reported research found senior citizens’ use of Facebook and other social networks was on the rise; at the very least slowly but steadily climbing among those 65 and older.
The study, published online in The Journals of Gerontology, determined that Internet use reduced the probability of depression by 33 percent among those reviewed.
The research was conducted by Shelia R. Cotten, PhD, of Michigan State University; George Ford, PhD, of the Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies; Sherry Ford, PhD, of the University of Montevallo; and Timothy M. Hale, PhD, of the Center for Connected Health and Harvard Medical School.
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