The effect of loneliness on depression: A meta-analysis

Int J Soc Psychiatry. 2018 Aug;64(5):427-435. doi: 10.1177/0020764018776349. Epub 2018 May 23.


Background: Negative emotions, which have a common, chronic and recurrent structure, play a vital role in the development and maintenance of psychopathology. In this study, loneliness as a negative emotion was considered to be a predisposing factor in depression.

Aim: The aim of this meta-analysis is to determine the effect of loneliness on depression.

Method: Initially, a literature scan was performed and all related literature was pooled together ( n = 531). Based on scales determined by the researchers, it was decided to include 88 studies in the analysis. This study obtained a sampling group of 40,068 individuals.

Results: The results of using a random effects model for analysis showed that loneliness had a moderately significant effect on depression. None of the variables of study sampling group, type of publication and publication year were found to be moderator variables.

Conclusion: According to the results of the research, loneliness may be said to be a significant variable affecting depression. The findings obtained are discussed in light of the literature.

Keywords: Loneliness; depression; meta-analysis.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Depression / etiology*
  • Depression / psychology
  • Humans
  • Loneliness / psychology*