Background: Social support can serve as a protective factor against the negative impacts of stressors and may thereby promote well-being. As well, exogenous administration of oxytocin has been tied to diminished stress responses and might also enhance the effects of social support. Methods/Results: In the current study, conducted among female undergraduate students (N = 67), higher depressive symptoms were related to lower endorsements of problem-focused coping in response to a psychosocial stressor comprising the Trier Social Stress test (TSST). However, the relation between depressive symptoms and problem-focused coping was absent among participants who had a close female friend present serving as social support prior to the stressor experience. Additionally, endogenous plasma oxytocin levels were related to certain coping strategies being favored (e.g., problem-solving, humor, cognitive distraction, self-blame and support seeking) in response to the psychosocial stressor. However, the strength of these relations varied as a function of whether individuals had social support present or not. Conclusion: These findings confirm the positive impact of social support in attenuating the relation between depressive symptoms and specific coping methods. The results of this study are consistent with view that oxytocin levels are accompanied by particular stress responses, possibly through the promotion of coping methods endorsed.

Additional Metadata
Keywords coping, Oxytocin, psychosocial stressor, social support, trier social stress test
Persistent URL
Journal Anxiety, Stress and Coping
McInnis, O.A. (Opal A.), McQuaid, R.J. (Robyn J.), Matheson, K, & Anisman, H. (2017). Relations between plasma oxytocin, depressive symptoms and coping strategies in response to a stressor: the impact of social support. Anxiety, Stress and Coping, 30(5), 575–584. doi:10.1080/10615806.2017.1333604