Theses Doctoral

Coping with Depression: A Dynamic Networks Approach to the Study of Social Network Constellation, Cohesion and Conflict

Sardana, Srishti

Introduction. Humanity is now witnessing one of the highest rates of displacement since the beginning of its history, with an unprecedented 79.5 million people around the world being forced to leave their homes; among whom are 26 million refugees. Since 2011, the protracted Syrian war has threatened the stability and well-being of all persons affected by the war. In these complex emergencies, regular access to resources, pathways to building social ties, and utilization of existing service networks (such as education, healthcare, and protection) are disrupted.

Method. Nine Syrian refugees and Lebanese host currently living in Lebanon screened positive for clinical depression and receiving interpersonal psychotherapy (IPT) by Lebanese providers were recruited for the study. A novel social network assessment tool using a dynamic network framework was designed and preliminarily tested to explore social support and conflict in the sample during IPT. Changes in social support and conflict resolution were assessed pre-and post-IPT in the depressed selection.

Results. To our knowledge, this is the first-of-its-kind study to adopt a dynamic, multiplex, open-system approach to identifying, classifying, and exploring temporal changes in the social network roles in both refugees and host population(s) with specific goal orientation. This is also the first to study these in the context of individuals with a mental health problem receiving IPT for depression treatment. Outcomes indicate promise of the use of the dynamic network theory’s survey approach (aka network goal analysis) among depressed participants and provides important insights about pathways through which persons activate social support and resolve conflict in a humanitarian emergency setting.

Discussion. Amidst war, economic downturn, COVID-19 pandemic, and recent bomb blasts, communities have been fragmented and their social ties, severed. Increasing rates of common mental disorders have worsened peoples’ capabilities for survival. This novel dynamic network approach to the study of social support and conflict resolution brings into focus pathways and social roles among depressed individuals crucial for social support, with implications for policy makers and mental health practitioners.

Keywords. Dynamic networks, Interpersonal psychotherapy, Social support, Conflict, Cohesion

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Clinical Psychology
Thesis Advisors
Verdeli, Helen
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
August 3, 2022