The Role of Loneliness and Social Support in Social Functioning in Postmenopausal Women with Major Depressive Disorder: Preliminary Analysis

Julia R. Potter, BA

Brigham and Women’s Hospital
The Role of Loneliness and Social Support in Social Functioning in Postmenopausal Women with Major Depressive Disorder: Preliminary Analysis

Scientific Abstract

Background: Depressed individuals report higher perceived loneliness despite no difference in the frequency of social contact when compared to non-depressed individuals. This inconsistency may be explained by social impairment in depressed individuals. However, this theory has not been thoroughly researched; especially in postmenopausal women with major depressive disorder (MDD). In this preliminary analysis, we investigated the relationship between menopause symptoms, loneliness, social support, and sleep quality in postmenopausal women with MDD.

Methods: 19 postmenopausal women with MDD completed the following questionnaires: Menopause-Specific Quality of Life, Pittsburgh Sleep Quality Index (PSQI), UCLA Loneliness Scale, Interpersonal Support Evaluation List, Social Adjustment Scale – Self-Report (SAS-SR), and the World Health Organization Disability and Adjustment Scale (WHODAS). For preliminary analyses, we performed bivariate Pearson correlations.

Results: Loneliness was positively correlated with Social Function (r =.72) and Familial Function (r =.64), while social support was negatively correlated with each subscore (r=.76) and (r =.59). Loneliness was positively correlated with WHODAS domain Difficulty in Participating in Society (r =.59), while social support was negatively correlated (r=.59). Loneliness was positively correlated with several menopause symptoms: Dissatisfaction with Personal Life (r =.59), Difficulty Sleeping (r =.76), and Decreased Stamina (r =.63), while social support was negatively correlated with each symptom (r=.73), (r =.86), (r =.62), and Feeling a Lack of Energy (r = .65). The following PSQI subscores were positively correlated with loneliness: Sleep Latency (r =.62) and Daytime Dysfunction Due to Sleepiness (r =.52). Social support was negatively correlated with the same subscores (r =.76), (r =.46), in addition to Sleep Quality (r=.64).

Conclusion: The findings suggest that there is a relationship between loneliness, social support, and quality of life features related to lack of energy, poor sleep, and social functioning. In a follow up analysis, a larger sample size will permit a more rigorous examination and opportunity to control for demographics.

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research Areas

Authors

Julia R. Potter, BA, Caitlin E. Millet, PhD, Jessica Poskus, MA, Megan Shanahan, MPH, Katherine E. Burdick, PhD

Principal Investigator

Katherine E. Burdick, PhD

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