Published online by Cambridge University Press: 29 May 2012
Background: Research suggests that biological and psychological attributions for depression are related to professional help-seeking, but the association of these attributions with informal support seeking in social relationships is unknown. As social support is linked with recovery from depression and a lower likelihood of experiencing future episodes of depression, it is important to understand factors that influence an individual's decision to seek social support. Aims: The present study examined depressed individuals’ own attributions for their depressive symptoms (i.e. personal attributions), perceptions of a friend's attributions for these symptoms (i.e. perceived attributions), and the depressed individuals’ willingness to seek social support from that friend. Method: Eighty-six individuals experiencing at least mild depressive symptoms completed self-report measures of personal attributions, perceived attributions, and a social support seeking intentions scale. Results: Participants’ own attributions for depressive symptoms were unrelated to their willingness to seek social support. In contrast, perceived biological attributions were related to greater help-seeking intentions, whereas perceived psychological attributions were associated with lower support seeking intentions. Conclusions: These results suggest that decisions to seek social support are more influenced by perceptions of others’ beliefs about depression than one's own beliefs.