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Social Support and the Outcome of Major Depression

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  02 January 2018

Linda K. George*
Center for the Study of Aging and Human Development, Duke University Medical Center, Box 3003, Durham, North Carolina 27710, USA
Dan G. Blazer
Affective Disorders Program, Duke University Medical Center
Dana C. Hughes
Division of Community and Social Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center
Nancy Fowler
Division of Community and Social Psychiatry, Duke University Medical Center


One hundred and fifty middle-aged and elderly adults with a diagnosis of major depression were assessed initially as inpatients, and were reinterviewed 6–32 months later. Both size of social network and subjective social support were significant predictors of depressive symptoms at follow-up, with baseline depression scores and other predictors of outcome status statistically controlled. Subjective social support was most strongly associated with major depression; this effect was significantly stronger for middle-aged than older adults, and for men than women. Differences in the effects of marital status, size of social network, and subjective social support also suggest the importance of distinguishing between involvement in and quality of interpersonal relationships.

Copyright © Royal College of Psychiatrists, 1989 

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