Perceived social support helps, but does not buffer the negative impact of anxiety disorders on quality of life and perceived stress
Anxiety disorders are prevalent and substantially hinder quality of life, in all domains, including social connections, mental and physical health. Past research on stress indicates that perceived social support improves wellbeing both directly by providing positive experiences and indirectly through buffering the effects of stress. This study examined whether social support moderates the negative impact of anxiety disorders on quality of life.
The study was conducted on a community sample in Cyprus, screened for anxiety disorders. The hypothesized model takes into account potential differences between individuals with and without anxiety in health, tendency to seek support, stressful life events, and depression. Furthermore, differences between different anxiety disorders on these variables were examined.
Results indicate that perceived social support has a positive, direct effect on quality of life and perceived stress for all participants but that it does not appear to moderate the adverse effects of having a disorder on quality of life or stress. The negative effects of anxiety appeared to mostly be carried by comorbid depression.
Social support is important for quality of life. Potential interventions for anxiety disorders should take this into account, as well as the substantially detrimental role of co-morbid depression symptoms on wellbeing outcomes.
KeywordsAnxiety disorders Social support Buffering Depression Quality of life Stress
This research was partially funded by the Cyprus Research Promotion Foundation and European Union Structural Funds. The authors wish to thank Margarita Kapsou, Dora Georgiou, Elena Constantinou and the many undergraduate students who made data collection possible for this research.
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