The relationship between coping strategies and depression in an African context
Depression is a psychiatric disorder associated with severe impairment in physical, social and role functioning, and with higher health care utilization. Experiencing an event that causes physical or psychological stress may substantially increase a person's chances of developing depression. Coping has been defined as a response aimed at diminishing the physical, emotional and psychological burden that is associated with stressful life events. Coping is considered one of the core concepts in health psychology and is strongly associated with the regulation of emotions throughout the stress period and thus it is important that it is understood, especially in the South African context of future morbidity. The purpose of this study was to determine whether there is a relationship between coping self–efficacy strategies and depression in an African context. Participants consisted of a convenience sample of 2 198 participants from both rural and urban areas. The rural group consisted of 182 adolescent Further Education and Training (FET) students between the ages of 16 and 21 years, and the urban group consisted of another 2 016 adolescent FET students between the ages of 16 and 21 years. Participants from both groups completed measurements on coping and depression. Two self–report measures were used: the Coping Self–Efficacy Scale (CSE) to determine a person's confidence or perceived self–efficacy in performing coping behaviors when facing life challenges or threats and the Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ9) to measure depression severity. Descriptive analysis results indicated that a relationship existed between coping selfefficacy strategies and depression and that levels of depression were very similar for both rural (9.23) and urban (9.25) groups. Coping strategies were very different in rural and urban areas; rural participants only used problem–focused coping and stop unpleasant thoughts and emotions, while urban participants used all three coping self–efficacy strategies: problem focused coping, stopping unpleasant thoughts and emotions and support from friends and family. Rural participants did not use support from friends and family as a coping self efficacy strategy; possibly due to the different relationships people living in rural areas have with one another, as opposed to the relationships of people living in urban areas. Rural people may not deem it socially acceptable to ask friends or family members or help when struggling with various stressors. Alternatively, rural areas may be more depleted of personal resources due to the strong urbanization process going on. It was concluded that there is an important relationship between coping strategies and level of depression, and in this study this relationship was found to be different in some ways for rural and urban groups. The results of this study have great implications for further research and clinical practice.
- ETD@PUK