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Social support, depression symptoms, and unwanted sexual experiences: Review of the literature

Beyl, Meredith L.
Unwanted sexual experiences are common in the United States, and victims are at increased risk of adverse psychological effects. Depression symptoms are common in survivors, which is concerning due to the health risks and suicidality risk associated with Major Depressive Disorder. Social support has been found to reduce depression symptoms and increase successful treatment, leading to improved outcomes. The current study tested three hypotheses: that most survivors would endorse depression symptoms; that higher levels of perceived social support would correlate with lower levels of depression symptoms, and that social support from family and friends would have a stronger negative correlation with depression symptoms than support from significant others. We evaluated 82 survivors of unwanted sexual experiences’ levels of depression symptoms and perceived social support, finding that increased social support was significantly correlated with decreased depression symptoms in this sample. Support was evaluated in three dimensions, with results indicating that perceived support from friends and family have a nearly equal correlation with lower depression symptoms, while support from significant others had no statistical significance on its own.