Social support and its associations with Depression and Anxiety: an in-depth Analysis using Structural Equation Modeling

Christian Schetsche, Luis Carlos Jaume, Lucas Gago-Galvagno, Angel Manuel Elgier


Although social support has been shown to have numerous positive effects on mental health, some studies found negative associations with certain internalizing symptoms. Because the origins of these associations are uncertain, the objective of the present study included the in-depth analysis of five dimensions of social support (i.e., social support seeking as a coping strategy, availability of emotional support, emotional support received, perceived comprehension, and need for support) and their associations with depressive and anxious symptoms. The sample (n = 822) was collected through Internet and a Full Latent Variables Model was developed in which the two symptoms were used as dependent variables. Subsequently, regression analyses were conducted to evaluate how the social support dimensions are influenced by depression and anxiety. The results evidenced that availability of emotional support, perceived comprehension, and need for support had direct effects on symptoms, and emotional support received and social support seeking indirect effects. Need for support was found to be the only dimension of social support that increased symptoms, and perceived comprehension was the only dimension of social support that reduced the need for support. Anxiety and depression exhibited different effects on social support: while depression reduced social support, anxiety increased it. It was concluded that anxiety can operate, under certain circumstances, as a protective mechanism against the negative effects of depression.


Social Support; Depression; Anxiety; Structural Equation Modeling.

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