The Think-Tank seminar series

Social interventions for Depression


Dr Tegan Cruwys, University of Queensland.

Date and time

12:00 -13:00, 27 June 2014


Social isolation is a well-established risk factor for depression. However, treatments for depression rarely address social factors in a systematic or theoretically-driven way. I will present evidence from three longitudinal studies that social identification predicts depression recovery. In Study 1 (N=4087), people aged 50 years and older were followed up over 4 years. We found 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. 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%. In Study 2 (N=52), disadvantaged participants who were at risk of depression joined a social group in a community setting. In Study 3 (N=92) adults with diagnosed depression joined a psychotherapy group in a clinical setting. Results indicated that in both studies, social identification with the group predicted recovery from depression after controlling for initial depression severity, frequency of attendance, and group type. I will discuss various implications of these results, with a particular focus on how this research is informing the developing of a manualised social intervention for depression.