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Risk of depression influenced by quality of relationships, U-M research says
Date:4/30/2013

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.

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 pa
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Contact: Justin Harris
juaha@umich.edu
734-764-2220
University of Michigan Health System
Source:Eurekalert

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