Masters Theses

Date of Award


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science


Child and Family Studies

Major Professor

Julia A. Malia


Mental illnesses, including mood disorders, frequently affect many areas of the lives of both the patients and their families. Prior research has shown that in families in which a member has a mental illness, the level of stigmatization and family burden increases compared with families in which no member has a mental illness. Even though there is more need for social support when a family has a member who is mentally ill, the level of available social support actually decreases. I chose to study the effects of depression and bipolar disorder (a combination of depressive and manic episodes) on stigmatization, social support, and family burden. Using a large pre-existing data set, the National Comorbidity Survey Replication (NCS-R), I explored specifically how the intensity of the patients' illness impacts those factors.In analyzing frequency distributions, however, I noted that the variable stigmatization needed to be eliminated because not enough respondents had answered the two questions concerning it and one item was ambiguous. Results of the regression analyses affirmed what previous researchers had found: With a greater intensity of depression and mania, the level of social support decreased and family burden increased. The same was the case when a regression was run with only depression as the independent variable. However, when a regression was run with only mania (not depression) as the predictor variable, the predicted relationship was not supported. Thus, I concluded that, for this sample, mania by itself neither increased family burden nor decreased social support. This finding is not that surprising, given the assertion that is found in the literature that mania does not exist by itself (without episodes of depression).Finally, the independent variables in the models tested explained little of the variance in the dependent variables, so other factors need to be considered in future research. Problems encountered using this secondary data set are discussed.

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