Hard times and good friends: negative life events and social support in patients with seasonal and nonseasonal depression

Can J Psychiatry. 2004 Jun;49(6):408-11. doi: 10.1177/070674370404900613.


Objective: Although a relatively large body of research has now accumulated concerning the relation between negative life events, social support, and major depressive disorder (MDD), little is known about the relation between seasonal affective disorder and these psychosocial variables. This study aimed to compare baseline levels of negative life events (NLEs) and perceived social support (SS) in patients with seasonal and nonseasonal depression.

Method: Canadian patients with winter seasonal affective disorder (SAD) (n = 26) and nonseasonal recurrent MDD (n = 66) completed measures of recent NLEs (the List of Threatening Experiences) and perceived SS (the Social Support Survey) prior to treatment.

Results: No significant between-group differences were observed in mean number of NLEs experienced or in quality of SS. Perceived SS was impaired in both groups, compared with patients with chronic medical conditions.

Conclusions: The results of this study complement those of previous research reporting increased incidence of NLEs and decreased SS in primary care patients with high seasonality in the UK. Future research is required to determine the causal relation between these psychosocial risk factors and SAD and to assess whether they have an effect on, or are affected by, treatment interventions for SAD.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antidepressive Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Depression / drug therapy
  • Depression / therapy*
  • Female
  • Friends*
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Phototherapy / methods*
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder / drug therapy
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder / therapy*
  • Social Support*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires


  • Antidepressive Agents