James Madison Undergraduate Research Journal (JMURJ)


Recent communication research on depression has focused on which response messages are most effective in providing emotional comfort to depressed individuals during depression dialogues. This study investigates the impact that a confidant’s initial response to a disclosure has on the disclosing individual, a key moment of dialogue for those with depression. It examines the relationship between the communication competence of responses to depression disclosures and how individuals rate those responses’ enacted social support, hypothesizing that the higher the communication competence of a confidant’s response (where competence reflects the effectiveness of interdependent communication), the more enacted social support the discloser will perceive (where enacted social support assesses how effectively a confidant’s response actually provides support).

College-aged participants from a large southern university completed Goldberg’s (1993) Depression Inventory Questionnaire before evaluating the enacted social support in depression disclosure responses of varying competence. Results suggest that the greater the competence of a response, the more enacted social support the individual making the disclosure will perceive. Results also suggest that the presence of depressive symptoms will slightly impact how an individual evaluates a response message’s level of enacted social support. College-aged adults exhibit a higher risk of depressive symptoms, making this group an important starting point for further research on depression dialogues.