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Male depression and social support link

Australian men who have lower levels of social support also experience greater depressive symptoms, a study on male health has found.

The study – undertaken as part of the Ten to Men project – found men in certain age, socio-economic or cultural groups were more likely to experience depression, low social support or both.

For example, older age was associated with significantly lower levels of self-perceived social support, satisfaction with relationships and a decreased likelihood of being an active member of a community-based club.

Being unemployed or out of the labour force and lower levels of education were also associated with experiencing more severe depressive symptoms.

Over time, lower levels of social support was associated with greater depressive symptoms, while greater depressive symptoms were associated with lower self-perceived social support.

Of the nearly 14,000 men aged 18 to 60 surveyed, 72 per cent had someone they could count on to listen when needing to talk most or all of the time.

Yet only 61 per cent of respondents said they had someone to share private worries and fears with most or all of the time.

Limited social connections are more common among Australian men than women, and directly lead to poorer mental and physical health outcomes, depression, substance use, sleep problems and cardiovascular disease.

As part of the study, the same group of men are surveyed at regular intervals every few years.

The findings of the study, funded by the Department of Health, will help improve programs, services and policies for all Australian men and boys.

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