Social support, onset of depression and personality

An exploratory analysis
  • B. Andrews
  • G. W. Brown
Article

Summary

The effects of personality characteristics on social support and hence risk of depression are explored in a group of 150 largely working-class mothers, a subsample of 400 women who took part in a prospective study. This established that once those with depression at first interview were excluded, practically all of the onsets of depression in the follow-up year occurred among 150 women with a severe event or major difficulty — that is a “provoking agent”. It was also found that low self-esteem and lack of support from a core tie at the time of the crisis was associated with a considerably increased risk. In the subsample as a whole, measures of dependency and attitudinal constraints to support taken at first interview were not associated with risk of depression. But, it is argued, any enduring personality traits that play a role in the link between lack of support and depression would most likely be seen in a smaller group, namely those who had had early inadequate parenting. And the most promising lead concerning the role of personality characteristics did in fact emerge in relation to a small high risk group with such parenting. Most of them had low self-esteem, and they appeared to confide in inappropriate and unreliable sources of support at time of crisis.

Keywords

Public Health High Risk Social Support Small Group Personality Trait 

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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • B. Andrews
    • 1
  • G. W. Brown
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Social Policy and Social ScienceRoyal Holloway and Bedford New College University of LondonLondonEngland

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