Group bonding can ease symptoms of depression, researchers say.

According to researchers at the University of Queensland, becoming part of a group helps people with depression cope with their mental health problems. The team states that group activities are an economical way of reducing depression, especially in people who belong to disadvantaged groups.

People in low socioeconomic strata can't often access medical and psychological intervention. Social groups for these patients act as support structures that help them deal with the condition.

"By joining a group, people are provided with exactly what they lack when they are depressed - a sense of belonging, a sense of meaning and purpose, and a source of social support," said Dr Tegan Cruwys from UQ's School of Psychology, one of the study authors, according to a news release

"The results place accessible and cost-effective treatment in the hands of everyone without the stigma of seeking psychological treatment or suffering the side-effects of anti-depressants," .Cruwys said.

The study included 52 people who were at high-risk of developing depression. The researchers sent these people to different groups: some were sent to community recreational activities such as sewing or art classes, while others got group therapy sessions at a local hospital.

Participants were assessed three months later to see if they had developed depression. Interestingly, the study found that joining a group - any activity group for that matter - can reduce depression risk as long as the person identifies with the group.

"For those who felt connected and part of a recreation group, less than one third were still depressed at the end of the study, whereas for those who did not identify with the group, more than half remained depressed," Cruwys said in a news release.

The study is published in the Journal of Affective Disorders.

Depression affects thoughts, feelings, behavior, mood and even physical health. According to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in every ten adults in the country is depressed.