How Social Support in Relationships Affects One’s Health

How Social Support in Relationships Affects One’s Health
How Social Support in Relationships Affects One’s Health
A person’s social interactions and relationship networks are often considered in evaluating one’s health and well being. Many studies have shown increases in mental and physical health to be strongly related to the amount of social support available in a given situation. An often used definition or theory of social support comes from the work of Cobb who thought of “Social support as information that would lead a person to believe that he or she is cared for and loved; that he or she is esteemed and valued; and that he or she belongs to a network of communication and mutual obligation” (1976).¬†Among this definition social support includes structural aspects of relationships, the existence of social ties and their interconnections. Social ties include, marital status, the number of relationships we have, the number of groups and organizations we have memberships in, and the amount of contact we have with family and friends. The above aspects of social support effects our well-being both positively and negatively. For instance, doctors are both the greatest source of distress and the most important source of support; they discover our health problems and yet they support us by listening or supplying us with antibiotics. Furthermore, while social support enhances our well-being to a point where there is an optimal level beyond which benefits diminish and may become negative, creating dependency.¬†Also, social support can be reciprocal on one’s health. Lack of social support could cause ill health while at the same time, ill health could cause a decline in social support. Sometimes support is offered with the best of intentions and yet somehow the recipient finds the support unhelpful. This situation occurs commonly in crisis events, such as the loss of a loved one. I have experienced the above, when my grandmother past on, she had…