Understanding loneliness among older populations in context of depression

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Commentary on: Martín-María N, Caballero FF, Lara E, et al. Effects of transient and chronic loneliness on major depression in older adults: A longitudinal study. Int J Geriatr Psychiatry. 2021;36(1):76-85. doi: 10.1002/gps.5397.

Implications for practice and research

  • In older populations, both transient and chronic loneliness have an increased risk of major depression.

  • Focused multifaceted interventions on loneliness could prevent depression, but further research is needed to understand and identify the factors that lead to chronification of loneliness.


With a growing number of ageing populations across the world, prevalence of loneliness in older population ranges from 20% to 34% in Europe, USA and Asia.1 Understanding and addressing the social, psychological and healthcare use-related effects of loneliness is vital to general well-being in older populations. Transient loneliness refers to short and infrequent feelings of loneliness, whereas chronic loneliness alludes to feelings that last longer than 2 years.2 Martín-María et al …

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