Communicating About Clinical Depression: A Thematic Analysis of Successes and Failures in Real-Life Support Attempts
Social support has been shown to be critical to coping and recovery for individuals with depression; however, ineffective attempts to communicate support often make the recipient feel worse, which is especially damaging to those who are depressed. There is little research that explores the efficacy of social support attempts from the perspective of those with depression. This study examined clinically depressed participants' accounts of real-life interactions to identify the characteristics of messages perceived as supportive versus unsupportive when depression was being discussed. A thematic analysis of participants' descriptions revealed that supportive interactions were characterized by listening, legitimizing, relating, and caring; whereas unsupportive interactions were characterized by minimization, ignoring, criticizing, and attacking. Ultimately, results from this study can be used improve supportive outcomes for individuals with depression.