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article imageHow Skype can help beat depression

By Tim Sandle     Nov 27, 2018 in Health
There are different ways through which technology can help tackle depression, especially with seniors. One tool that has been tested recently is the communication platform Skype. Video communication was shown to reduce depressive symptoms.
Scientists working at Oregon Health and Science University undertook a study to examine the extent that social media can reduce feelings of depression. For this they looked at four different types of online communication technologies: video chat, email, social networks and instant messaging. The test population were all people aged 60 and older.
With seniors, it is estimated that more than two million of the 34 million U.S. citizens aged 65 and older suffer from some form of depression. One of the reasons for this is an association with aging related physical pain and rates of depression.
For reach of the communication technologies, the researchers assessed the test subjects for symptoms of depression, based on questionnaire responses two years later. The study results revealed that those who regularly used video chat functions like Skype or FaceTime had almost half the level of depressive symptoms compared with other seniors who did not use any communication technologies, and significantly lower levels of depression than other adults who used alternative communication technologies, such as email.
Information was drawn from the Health and Retirement Study supported by the U.S. National Institute on Aging of the National Institutes of Health. Examining the database, the scientists selected 1,424 participants. These participants were asked to complete a questionnaire about technology use. The same people were asked to complete follow-up survey two years later. The follow-up questionnaire also examined each participant’s depressive symptoms.
It was found that those who used communications technologies like email, instant messaging or social media apps such as Facebook had similar revels depressive symptoms when compared with those who eschewed any communication technologies.
However, those participants who regularly used video chat platforms like Skype and FaceTime had around half the estimated probability of depressive symptoms. Certain factors, like pre-existing depression, were accounted for.
As summarized by lead researcher Dr. Alan Teo: “Video chat came out as the undisputed champion. Older adults who used video chat technology such as Skype had significantly lower risk of depression.”
The research findings have been published in The American Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry. The research paper is called “Using Skype to Beat the Blues: Longitudinal Data from a National Representative Sample.”
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