Developmental relations between perceived social support and depressive symptoms through emerging adulthood: blood is thicker than water

J Fam Psychol. 2011 Feb;25(1):127-36. doi: 10.1037/a0022320.


Longitudinal trajectories of depressive symptoms, perceived support from family, and perceived support from friends were examined among 816 emerging adults (480 women; 59%). In the context of a larger longitudinal investigation on the predictors and course of depression, data were drawn from eight self-report questionnaire assessments that roughly spanned the third decade of life. An age-based scaling approach was used to model trajectories of depressive symptoms and perceived social support between the ages of 21 and 30. Associative models of the relations between depressive symptoms and perceived social support from family and friends were tested. Results indicated that depressive symptoms decreased and perceived social support increased during the study period. Associative models suggested that among women, higher initial levels of perceived support from family predicted slower decreases in depressive symptoms (b = .34, p < .01). Among men, higher initial levels of depressive symptoms predicted slower increases in perceived family support (b = -.23, p < .05). Cross-domain predictive effects were not observed for perceived support from friends and depressive symptoms. Implications of the findings are discussed.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Depression / diagnosis
  • Depression / epidemiology*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Family / psychology*
  • Female
  • Friends / psychology*
  • Humans
  • Likelihood Functions
  • Male
  • Oregon / epidemiology
  • Psychiatric Status Rating Scales
  • Self-Assessment
  • Sex Distribution
  • Social Support*
  • Young Adult