Let there be light: The moderating role of positive solitude in the relationship between loneliness and depressive symptoms

Sharon Ost-Mor, Dikla Segel-Karpas, Yuval Palgi, Hamama Raz Yaira, Shacham Mayan, Menachem Ben-Ezra, Lee Greenblatt-Kimron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Positive solitude (PS), the choice of being alone to engage in meaningful inner or physical, spiritual, mental, or cognitive activity/ experience, was recently suggested as a stand-alone phenomenon differentiated from loneliness and negative solitude. As loneliness was previously found to have adverse implications for mental health, the present study examined whether the ability to engage in PS can moderate the harmful effect of loneliness on depressive symptoms. The sample consisted of 520 community-dwelling older adults in Israel aged 68-87 (Mage = 72.66). Participants answered an online questionnaire through a survey company (Ipanel) assessing their background characteristics, depressive symptoms, loneliness, and PS. Loneliness was positively associated with depressive symptoms, whereas PS was negatively associated with depressive symptoms. Furthermore, PS moderated the relationship between loneliness and depressive symptoms, such that higher levels of PS weakened this association. The findings indicate that PS may serve as a buffering factor for mental health among older adults by augmenting coping with the adverse outcomes of loneliness. The results provide insight for tailoring future treatment interventions focusing on PS to enhance mental health among older adults.

Original languageEnglish
Number of pages5
JournalInternational Psychogeriatrics
Early online date6 Oct 2023
DOIs
StateE-pub ahead of print - 6 Oct 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© International Psychogeriatric Association 2023.

Keywords

  • Depressive symptoms
  • Loneliness
  • Older adults
  • Positive solitude

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Gerontology

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