An Experience-Sampling Study of Depressive Symptoms and Their Social Context


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Abstract

Both clinical and subclinical depression are associated with social impairment; however, few studies have examined the impact of social contact in the daily lives of people with depressive symptoms. The current study used the experience-sampling methodology to examine associations between depressive symptoms, social contact, and daily life impairment in 197 young adults. Depressive symptoms were associated with increased isolation, negative affect, anhedonia, and physical symptoms, decreased positive affect, and social and cognitive impairment in daily life. For people with more depressive symptoms, being with social partners who were perceived as close was associated with greater decreases in negative affect, as well as increases in positive affect. Ironically, participants with depressive symptoms reported spending less time with people whom they perceived as close, minimizing the protective effects of socializing. These results suggest that people experiencing depressive symptoms may be especially sensitive to the nature of social interactions.

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