The Relationship between the Perceived Social Support and the Level of Depression and Anxiety in University Students

Article excerpt


The relationship between social support that students perceived from their friends and families and their depression and anxiety levels is investigated in this study. The study is conducted with 325 students (200 females 125 males aged between 18 and 21, mean age = 20.41) attending to different universities in the 2002-2003 academic year. Three scales were used in the study to measure perceived social support, depression and anxiety levels: the Social Support Perceived from the Family and Friends, adapted to the Turkish by Eskin, "the Beck Depression Scale" adapted to the Turkish by Tegin and "the State and Trait Anxiety Inventory" adapted to the Turkish by Öner. These three scales were administered simultaneously to the students participating in the study and the relations among them were calculated. As a result, there found to be a positive significant relationship between trait anxiety and depression scores (p<.01) and a negative relationship between social support perceived from the friends (p<.01) and family (p<.05) and depression scores.

Key Words

Social Support, Perceived Social Support, Depression, Anxiety, Adolescent.

The most common psychological problems adolescence are depression and anxiety (Çuhadaroglu & Yazici, 1999; Kashani & Orvaschel, 1988). While depression is less common during childhood, it increases during the onset of adolescence (Akova, 2000; Mc Gee, 1990; Öy, 1995). During adolescence, depression is experienced mostly short and depending on the certain conditions. Adolescents suffering from depression are sad and broken down. They feel lonely, but can continue doing their daily chores. However, in deeper cases of depression, adolescents show the symptoms of low self-esteem, self-blame, hopelessness, suicide thoughts, anger, and peevishness (Isik, 1991).

From the bulk of research, it can be inferred that depression and anxiety may be experienced at the same time. It has been declared that depression and anxiety are in company in 12% - 75% of the surveys conducted (Kashani & Orvaschel, 1988). One of the psychological reasons of depression and anxiety is the lack of convenient social environment and stress. The increase in the number of problematic life events adolescents experience as they grow older and the loss of social support are the other factors blamed to increase the level of depression and anxiety (Westenberg, Siebelink & Warmenhoven, 1999).

The term 'social support' has become a field specific term due to its effect on both the physical and the psychological health (Eskin, 1995). Social support is defined as the feeling of being an important person in the eye of others, cared and loved, respected as a human being, and having someone to help and listen to when needed (Mirowksy & Ros 1989; Saroson, Levine et al.(1983). When the related publications are scrutinized, it appears that social support is composed of various support types. Cohen and Wils (1985) take social support in four groups: a) esteem support: the support relating to the person's being respected and accepted. This is also called emotional support, self-esteem support, and effective support. b) Informational support: guidance to settle a problem, providing information and advice about the subject matter c) Social relationship: spending enjoyable hours with others and participating in activities in free times. The positive effects of talking about problems with others and belonging to a group are support to decrease the level of stress. d) Instrumental support: this kind of support is, too, defined as the real support as it decreases the stress level with the aid of money, time and material by settling the problem under discussion.

Cohen and Wills (1985) speak of two basic opinions explaining the relationship between social support and health. The first of these is the Main Effect Model and the second is Buffering Model. According to the main effect model, there is a direct relationship between social support and health. …