Abstract Little is known about the association between depression and the buffering effects of social support in mid-life crisis. The aim of this study is to determine the buffering effects of social support on depression concerning middle-aged individuals, while also taking reciprocity and gender differences into careful consideration. A cross-sectional survey of all middle-aged individuals (40–69 years of age) using a large sample (n = 4558) from a community-living population, who resided in Rokunohe town, Aomori prefecture in northern Japan (response rate = 69.8%), was undertaken. This town recently had a lot of suicides. Two-way anova was used to analyze the effects of stressor and social support on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression scale scores. The authors found a stress buffering effect of social support on the depressive symptoms occurring in middle age, however, a significant difference in the stress buffer effect was only observed in male subjects. Moreover, when the authors take reciprocity into account, the effect of the buffer on depression was found not only in males receiving support but in males providing support as well. In conclusion, pertaining to males, social support reduces depressive symptoms under stressful circumstances in middle age, not only when they receive such support but also when they provide it. Therefore, these findings suggest that reciprocal social support is important for males in relation to community mental health.