Illness representations of depression and perceptions of the helpfulness of social support : comparing depressed and never-depressed persons
2010, Vollmann, Manja, Scharloo, Margreet, Salewski, Christel, Dienst, Alexander, Schonauer, Klaus, Renner, Britta
Background: Interactions between depressed persons and persons within their social network are often characterized by misunderstanding and unsuccessful social support attempts. These interpersonal problems could be fostered by discrepancies between depressed and never-depressed persons' illness representations of depression and/or discrepancies in the perceived helpfulness of supportive behaviors.
Methods: Illness representations of depression (IPQ-R) and perceptions of the helpfulness of different social support behaviors (ISU-DYA and ISAD) were assessed in 41 currently depressed persons and 58 persons without a history of depression.
Results: Never-depressed persons perceived depression as more controllable by treatment and as less emotionally impairing than depressed persons, but also as having more severe consequences. Never-depressed persons considered activation-oriented support (motivation to approach problems) as more helpful and protection-oriented support (allowance to draw back) as less helpful in comparison to depressed persons.
Limitation: Data were collected in unrelated samples of depressed and never-depressed persons.
Conclusions: Discrepancies in illness representations and perceptions of the helpfulness of social support do exist and may be the origin of problematic social interactions between depressed patients and persons within their social network. Therapeutic interventions should address the issue of conflicting perceptions and encourage depressed patients to acknowledge and discuss this topic within their social network.