Reports have been emerging of a new study that found over-50s who saw friends and family more than twice a week were 50 per cent less likely to develop depression compared to those who saw family less often.
Even telephone conversations or keeping in touch over email or social media was not as risk reducing or effective as meeting in person.
The study took place over a two-year period, tracking over 11,000 over-50s. The results found that people who saw family or friends less than once a month had a 12 per cent chance of developing symptoms of depression, compared to those who socialised up to three times a week.
Interestingly, people between 50 and 70 years old saw social contact with friends being a particularly important factor in warding off depression, whereas those over the age of 70 were benefitting more from frequent contact with relatives and children.
The researchers did state however, that regular contact with friends and family was only beneficial if it was harmonious and enjoyable. It was found that if the visits were full of conflict and stress, they were more likely to result in depression than no visits at all.
However, while researchers support the importance of social contact in preventing the onset of depression in older people, it does not prove a direct cause between a lack of face-to-face contact and depression.
The study suggests that people that are predisposed to depression may be more likely to avoid social contact and withdraw from family get-togethers.
Depression occurs in older adults alongside other illnesses including dementia, heart disease or physical disabilities. If you are concerned that you, a friend or family member is showing signs of depression, please do contact a medical professional for advice.