Social Support and Health and Well Being

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Social Support is a multidimensional construct which is not unilaterally beneficial i.e. maladaptive vicarious learning; Dependence; Provision of bad advice. It is generally thought that the more social support a person receives the more beneficial upon their health and well-being. Access to appropriate resources may protect the individual from the deleterious effects of stress Martin (1989). Lazarus and Folkman (1984) state all else being equal, morale, health and functional capabilities will be better if support is perceived to be adequate.

Levels of social support a person receives have been associated with mental and physical health and well-being. In stressful times, social support helps people reduce psychological distress (e.g., anxiety or depression). Social support has been found to promote psychological adjustment in conditions with chronic high stress like HIV, rheumatoid arthritis, cancer, stroke, and coronary artery disease. People with low social support report more sub-clinical symptoms of depression and anxiety than do people with high social support. In addition, people with low social support have higher rates of major mental disorder than those with high support. These include post-traumatic stress disorder, panic disorder, social phobia, major depressive disorder, dysthymic disorder, and eating disorders.

Social support has numerous ties to physical health, including mortality. People with low social support are at a much higher risk of death from a variety of diseases (e.g., cancer, cardiovascular disease). Numerous studies have shown that people with higher social support have an increased likelihood for survival.

Individuals with lower levels of social support have: more cardiovascular disease, more inflammation and less effective immune system functioning, more complications during pregnancy, and more functional disability and pain associated with rheumatoid arthritis, among many other findings. Conversely, higher rates of social...
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