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Perceived Emotional Support and Bereaved Spouses

J Affect Disord; ePub 2017 Jan 4; Jacobson, et al

Low perceived emotional social support may be a mechanism by which anxiety symptoms predict depressive symptoms 48 months later for bereaved individuals, according to a recent study. Researchers examined perceived emotional social support as a possible mediator between anxiety and depressive symptoms in a bereaved sample of older adults (n=250). Anxiety and depressive symptoms were measured immediately after bereavement, social support was measured at 18 months after bereavement, and anxiety and depressive symptoms were also measured at 48 months after bereavement. They found:

  • When controlling for baseline depression, anxiety symptoms significantly positively predicted depressive symptoms 48 months later.
  • Further, perceived emotional social support significantly mediated the relationship between anxiety symptoms and later depressive symptoms, such that anxiety symptoms significantly negatively predicted later emotional social support, and emotional social support significantly negatively predicted later depressive symptoms.
  • Also, when controlling for baseline anxiety, depressive symptoms positively predicted anxiety symptoms 48 months later. However, low emotional social support failed to mediate this relationship.


Jacobson NC, Lord KA, Newman MG. Perceived emotional social support in bereaved spouses mediates the relationship between anxiety and depression. [Published online ahead of print January 4, 2017]. J Affect Disord. doi:10.1016/j.jad.2017.01.011.