Recovery from major depression: the role of support from family, friends, and spiritual beliefs


James C. Overholser, Department of Psychology, Case Western Reserve University, 10900 Euclid Avenue, Cleveland, OH 44106-7123, USA.


Objective:  Many of the risk factors for major depression are not amenable to change. The present study was designed to identify factors associated with recovery from depression that could be targets for clinical intervention.

Method:  Sixty-two psychiatric in-patients who met diagnostic criteria for major depression were interviewed while hospitalized and re-interviewed 3 months after discharge. Analyses examined the relationship between depression and three sources of emotional support: family, friends, and spiritual beliefs.

Results:  Depression severity at baseline was the most consistent predictor of depression severity and diagnosis at follow-up. Patients who had recovered from depression by the time of the follow-up assessment reported higher perceived emotional support from family and friends at baseline. Support from friends, support from family and a composite of emotional support were significant predictors of depression beyond the effects of initial depression severity.

Conclusion:  Aspects of emotional support were significantly associated with depression outcome.