Surfing the Web may ward off depression among retirees, particularly among those who live alone, according to new research.
The study, published online in The Journals of Gerontology, tracked the experiences of more than 3,000 seniors from 2002 to 2008 and found that frequent Internet use was associated with a 33 percent reduction in depression risk.
The researchers — from Michigan State University, the Phoenix Center for Advanced Legal & Economic Public Policy Studies, the University of Montevallo, and Harvard Medical School — noted older people who live alone are more likely to be depressed and that online activities may provide an avenue for connecting with others.
"Retired persons are a population of interest, particularly because one mechanism by which Internet use may affect depression is to counter the effects of isolation and loneliness, which are more common among older adults," the authors noted. "Also, working individuals may be required to use the Internet rather than choosing to, and may use the technology for different reasons than those not working."
Late-life depression affects up to 10 million Americans age 50 and older, federal statistics show.
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