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Social support in depression: structural and functional factors, perceived control and help-seeking

  • A. Kleinberg (a1), A. Aluoja (a1) and V. Vasar (a1)

This study examined the associations of social support, loneliness and locus of control with depression and help-seeking in persons with major depression.


Twelve-month help-seeking for emotional problems was assessed in a cross-sectional 2006 Estonian Health Survey. Non-institutionalized individuals aged 18–84 years (n = 6105) were interviewed. A major depressive episode was assessed using the Mini-International Neuropsychiatric Interview. Factors describing social support, social and emotional loneliness and locus of control were assessed, and their associations with depression were analysed. The associations with reported help-seeking behaviour among people identified as having a major depressive episode (n = 343) were explored.


Low frequency of contacts with one's friends and parents, emotional loneliness, external locus of control and emotional dissatisfaction with couple relations were significant factors predicting depression in the multivariate model. External locus of control was associated with help-seeking in the depressed sample. Interactions of emotional loneliness, locus of control and frequency of contacts with parents significantly predicted help-seeking in the depressed sample.


Depression is associated with structural and functional factors of social support and locus of control. Help-seeking of depressed persons depends on locus of control, interactions of emotional loneliness, locus of control and contacts with the parental family.

Corresponding author
*Address for correspondence: Dr A. Kleinberg, Department of Psychiatry, University of Tartu, Raja 31, Tartu 50417, Estonia. (Email:
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