Treatment for Depression: a Critical Evaluation of the Effects of Social Support on Depression

Topics: Major depressive disorder, Psychology, Major depressive episode Pages: 6 (1598 words) Published: May 29, 2013
Treatment for Depression: A Critical Evaluation of
The Effects of Social Support on Depression
Adriann Conner
Massey University

Social support is defined as information leading the subject to believe that he is cared for and loved, esteemed, and a member of a network of mutual obligations.  There are various types of social support that can be used to overcome the effects of depression.  This essay will discuss 3 aspects of depression and social support.  The first topic addressed is the benefit of belongingness.  The second is the role of gender in regards to social support and depression, and thirdly it will discuss how adaptive inferential feedback, and emotion regulation can be powerful tools in reducing depressive thinking.  There are benefits when using social support to counter depression, and knowing which type of social support to use and when can help reduce recovery time.  


The research into whether social support helps to improve the effects of depression has led to a broad range of hypothesise on the subject.  This essay will look at addressing a few of these ideas, and how they purport to answer the question.  Social support can be defined as: “information leading the subject to believe that he is cared for and loved, esteemed, and a member of a network of mutual obligations” (Cobb, 1976, p. 1).  It is useful to note that there are many diverse types of social support that can be both beneficial and/or detrimental to the recovery from depression (Arditte & Joorman, 2011; Blais & Renshaw, 2012; Dolokin, Panzarella, Fernandez, Alloy, & Cascardi, 2004; Grav, Hellzen, & Romild, 2011; Marroquin, 2011).  This essay will cover the topics of the benefits of social support on depression, and how one goes about seeking and receiving social support.  It will also discuss the role of gender in social support, and finally it will talk about some different types of social support that can be used.   There is overwhelming amounts of research that substantiate the fact that social support helps to ameliorate depression. Having a clear support structure significantly reduces depressive episodes, and decreases the chance of having depression re-occur (Lin, Ye & Ensel, 1999).  Lin, Ye and Ensel discussed certain steps a person can take to help gain adequate social support, such as joining a community project, or helping in volunteer work.  Participating in events that involve being around others enhances a feeling of belongingness. Which they express in their research can facilitate the creation of binding relationships with others, thus helping to create a practical social support network. Their study also found a correlation between people who had intimate relationships with others, and a decrease in depressive moods.  They also note the relationship between the amount of contact, or support a depressed person receives per week has a dramatic effect in reducing their symptoms.  It is interesting to note that persons who have a greater perception of social support feel less depressive symptoms over time, whereas people thinking they are lacking adequate social support state an increase in depressive symptoms (Lin, Ye & Ensel, 1999; Cohen & Wills, 1985; Gladstone, Parker, Malhi & Wilhelm, 2007). The need for social support varies significantly across genders (Cheng, 1999).   For instance, Cheng notes that men report to having a lower need for support than woman.  Her study found that males reported to being more self-reliant and independent, and thus wanting to solve the problems they are facing alone.  This could potentially explain the reason that they need less social support than woman.  Her study found that people with more feminine characteristics report a decrease in depressive moods when they receive more social support. In addition to looking at the...
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