Interactions between depressed persons and their social network are often characterized by misunderstanding and unsuccessful support attempts. One possible reason for these interpersonal problems could be discrepancies between depressed and never-depressed persons' illness representations of depression. These discrepancies in illness representations may result in discrepancies in perceptions of the helpfulness of social support which in turn may lead to unmet needs and unsuccessful social support attempts.
The present project examines illness representations of depression and perceptions of appropriate social support when facing depression among currently depressed persons and never-depressed persons. Three research goals were addressed: (1) contrasting illness representations of depression among depressed and never-depressed persons with regard to the representational attributes suggested by the self-regulation model; (2) comparing depressed persons' (recipients) and never-depressed persons' (potential providers) perceptions of the helpfulness of different social support behaviors; and (3) investigating the relationship between illness representations and perceptions of the helpfulness of social support among depressed persons and never-depressed persons.