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Thursday, November 22, 2018

Could video chat help stave off depression in seniors?

New US research has found that using video chat such as Skype to communicate with family may help reduce symptoms of depression in seniors.

Led by researchers at Oregon Health & Science University, the new study set out to investigate whether using certain types of online communication technology could help reduce depressive symptoms in seniors, with estimates suggesting that almost 5% of adults aged 50 and above lived with major depression in 2015.

For the study the researchers recruited 1,424 adults with an average age of 64.8 who completed a set of questions about their use of technology, including video chat such as Skype or FaceTime, email, social media, and instant messaging.

Participants were then questioned again two years later to measure, among other things, depressive symptoms.

The findings, published in the American Journal Of Geriatric Psychiatry, showed that seniors who used video chat had approximately half the probability of depressive symptoms at the two-year follow-up compared to non-users and those who used email, social media, and instant messaging.

Use of email, social media, and instant messaging were not associated with a lower risk of depression, with participants who used these methods of communication technology showing virtually the same rate of depressive symptoms as those who used no communication technology at all.

"Video chat came out as the undisputed champion," said lead author Alan Teo, M.D. "Older adults who used video chat technology such as Skype had significantly lower risk of depression."

"To our knowledge, this is the first study to demonstrate a potential link between use of video chat and prevention of clinically significant symptoms of depression over two years in older adults," the authors wrote, with the team adding that the findings suggest video chat technologies like Skype could be a novel way to lower the risk of developing signs and symptoms of depression years later.

Teo added that the findings are not surprising, given that video chat offers users face-to-face interactions with loved ones.

"I still maintain that face-to-face interaction is probably best of all," Teo said. "However, if we're looking at the reality of modern American life, we need to consider these communication technologies. And when we do consider them and compare them, our findings indicate that I'm better off Skyping with my dad in Indiana than sending him a message on WhatsApp." – AFP Relaxnews



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