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Year : 2018  |  Volume : 5  |  Issue : 2  |  Page : 99-106

Relationship of loneliness and social connectedness with depression in elderly: A multicentric study under the aegis of Indian Association for Geriatric Mental Health

1 Department of Psychiatry, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh, India
2 Department of Psychiatry, GMERS Medical College, Gandhinagar, Gujarat, India
3 Department of Psychiatry, AIIMS, Jodhpur, Rajasthan, India
4 Department of Psychiatry, Calcutta National Medical College, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
5 Department of Psychiatry, Advanced Medical Research Institute, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
6 Department of Psychiatry, King George's Medical University, Lucknow, Uttar Pradesh, India
7 Department of Psychiatry, SKIMS Medical College, Srinagar, Jammu and Kashmir, India
8 Department of Psychiatry, Topiwala National Medical College and BYL Nair Charitable Hospital, Mumbai, Maharashtra, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. Sandeep Grover
Department of Psychiatry, Postgraduate Institute of Medical Education and Research, Chandigarh - 160 012
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/jgmh.jgmh_26_18

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Aim of the Study: This study aimed to evaluate the prevalence of loneliness and its relationship with social connectedness and depression in elderly. Additional aims were to evaluate the demographic and clinical factors associated with loneliness and social connectedness in elderly patients with depression. Methodology: The study sample comprised 488 elderly patients (age ≥60 years) with depression recruited across 8 centers. These patients were evaluated on Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS-30), Generalized Anxiety Disorder-7 Scale (GAD-7), Patient Health Questionnaire-15 (PHQ-15) Scale, Columbia Suicide Severity Rating Scale, UCLA Loneliness Scale (LS), and Revised Social Connectedness Scale. Results: About three-fourth (77.3%) of the entire sample reported the presence of loneliness. With respect to specific loneliness symptom, 62.5% reported lack of companionship, 58.7% reported being left out in life, and 56.5% of the individuals reported felt isolated from others. No gender differences were noted in the prevalence of any loneliness symptom. Higher loneliness scores had significant positive correlation with severity of depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms as assessed by GDS-30, PHQ-15, and GAD-7, respectively, in individuals of both the genders. Higher social connectedness was associated with higher level of anxiety and lower loneliness in females only. Being currently single, older age, longer duration of illness, presence of family history of mental illness, presence of comorbid physical illness, and absence of substance abuse were associated with higher loneliness. With regard to suicidality, higher loneliness was associated with nonspecific active suicidal thoughts, active suicidal ideations with and without intent, nonsuicidal behavior, and higher intensity of suicidal ideations. Conclusions: About three-fourth of the elderly patients with depression also have associated loneliness. Loneliness is associated with higher severity of depression, anxiety, and somatic symptoms. Severity of depression is associated with loneliness but not with social connectedness. Lower social connectedness among elderly females with depression is associated with higher loneliness, but this is not true for elderly males with depression.

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