Social group memberships protect against future depression, alleviate depression symptoms and prevent depression relapse

Cruwys, Tegan, Dingle, Genevieve, A, Haslam, Catherine, Haslam, S. Alexander, Jetten, Jolanda and Morton, Thomas A. (2013) Social group memberships protect against future depression, alleviate depression symptoms and prevent depression relapse. Social Science and Medicine, 98 179-186. doi:10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.09.013

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Author Cruwys, Tegan
Dingle, Genevieve, A
Haslam, Catherine
Haslam, S. Alexander
Jetten, Jolanda
Morton, Thomas A.
Title Social group memberships protect against future depression, alleviate depression symptoms and prevent depression relapse
Journal name Social Science and Medicine   Check publisher's open access policy
ISSN 0277-9536
Publication date 2013-12
Sub-type Article (original research)
DOI 10.1016/j.socscimed.2013.09.013
Open Access Status
Volume 98
Start page 179
End page 186
Total pages 8
Place of publication Kidlington, Oxford, United Kingdom
Publisher Pergamon
Collection year 2014
Language eng
Formatted abstract
• There has been little uptake of evidence that social support reduces depression.
• We propose that research with depressed samples using concrete measures is needed.
• Social group memberships predicted lower depression 2 years and 4 years later.
• Among those depressed at baseline, groups were protective against relapse.
• Joining and maintaining groups may be a viable, cost-effective intervention.

A growing body of research suggests that a lack of social connectedness is strongly related to current depression and increases vulnerability to future depression. However, few studies speak to the potential benefits of fostering social connectedness among persons already depressed or to the protective properties of this for future depression trajectories. We suggest that this may be in part because connectedness tends to be understood in terms of (difficult to establish) ties to specific individuals rather than ties to social groups. The current study addresses these issues by using population data to demonstrate that the number of groups that a person belongs to is a strong predictor of subsequent depression (such that fewer groups predicts more depression), and that the unfolding benefits of social group memberships are stronger among individuals who are depressed than among those who are non-depressed. These analyses control for initial group memberships, initial depression, age, gender, socioeconomic status, subjective health status, relationship status and ethnicity, and were examined both proximally (across 2 years, N = 5055) and distally (across 4 years, N = 4087). Depressed respondents with no group memberships who joined one group reduced their risk of depression relapse by 24%; if they joined three groups their risk of relapse reduced by 63%. Together this evidence suggests that membership of social groups is both protective against developing depression and curative of existing depression. The implications of these results for public health and primary health interventions are discussed.
Keyword Depression
Mental health
Social capital
Social identity
Q-Index Code C1
Q-Index Status Confirmed Code
Institutional Status UQ

Document type: Journal Article
Sub-type: Article (original research)
Collections: Official 2014 Collection
School of Psychology Publications
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Citation counts: TR Web of Science Citation Count  Cited 51 times in Thomson Reuters Web of Science Article | Citations
Scopus Citation Count Cited 55 times in Scopus Article | Citations
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Created: Fri, 18 Oct 2013, 12:44:59 EST by Tegan Cruwys on behalf of School of Psychology