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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
Dr. Schwartz's Weblog

Mental Health, Memory and Social Interaction

Allan N. Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Nov 14th 2007

A new piece of research shows that a good method for people to improve both their memory and mood is to talk to someone for at least ten minutes. The study was done at the University of Michigan. Evidently, socializing with people is a form of exercise that requires attention, effort and alertness, all of which are important aspects of memory. Of course, socializing is also an important feature of preventing or reducing depression. When one considers the fact that avoiding people becomes a major feature of depression, it is understandable how doing the opposite of self isolation would have therapeutic effects.

The study was not restricted to college students but included subjects ranging in age from 24 to 36. The findings showed that the higher level of social interaction there was the higher level of cognitive functioning. Mental Status exams were used to assess how the subjects responded to social interactions. What is interesting about the mental status exam is that it is also used to assess psychiatric conditions, such as depression, psychosis, anxiety and cognitive functioning, such as memory, computations and abstract thinking.

It is fairly safe to surmise that social isolation is harmful to mental health and intellectual development and cognitive functioning. I have always maintained that human beings are social creatures and do better in social situations involving other people, rather than living in an isolated environment. It is interesting to note that prisons systems use complete isolation for those prisoners who are incorrigible.

To the list of things that people need to do to fight depression is interacting with people each day for at least a few minutes. This along with exercise, cognitive behavioral therapy and meditation, can go along ways towards improving mental health.

What are your comments about this issue?

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at dransphd@aol.com for details.

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