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Loneliness Linked with Depression Among Veterans

J Affect Disord; ePub 2018 Jan 15; Teo, Marsh, et al

Multiple aspects of social connectedness are associated with depression outcomes among military veterans with depression, a recent study found. Loneliness may represent the most important component of connectedness, as it is associated with depression severity, suicidality, and health-related behaviors. Participants were primary care patients (n=301) with probable major depression at a Veterans Health Administration hospital and its satellite clinics. Social connectedness was primarily measured using multi-item instruments from the NIH Toolbox of Adult Social Relationship Scales. Primary outcomes were clinical symptoms (depression and suicidal ideation) and secondary outcomes were self-reported health-related behaviors (medication adherence, patient activation, and help-seeking intentions). Researchers found:

  • In multivariate models adjusting for potential confounders and other facets of connectedness, loneliness was associated with higher levels of depression and suicidal ideation, as well as lower patient activation and help-seeking intentions.
  • Social support and social norms about depression treatment were each associated with higher patient activation and help-seeking intentions.
  • Social connectedness was not associated with medication adherence.


Teo AR, Marsh H, Forsberg CW, et al. Loneliness is closely associated with depression outcomes and suicidal ideation among military veterans in primary care. [Published online ahead of print January 15, 2018]. J Affect Disord. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2018.01.003.

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