Numerous studies indicate social support is essential for maintaining physical and psychological health. The harmful consequences of poor social support and the protective effects of good social support in mental illness have been well documented. Social support may moderate genetic and environmental vulnerabilities and confer resilience to stress, possibly via its effects on the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenocortical (HPA) system, the noradrenergic system, and central oxytocin pathways. There is a substantial need for additional research and development of specific interventions aiming to increase social support for psychiatrically ill and at-risk populations.
Keywords: cortisol; health; oxytocin; resilience; social support; stress.