|dc.description.abstract||Purpose. Although there is abundant evidence about their impact of economic crises
on depression and other mental health problems, little is known about the protective
role of variables linked to positive functioning (i.e., psychological well-being).
Methods. We analyzed data from Spain, one of the European countries most affected
by the 2008-2013 economic recession, collected in Round 3 (R3, 2006) and Round 6
(R6, 2013) of the European Social Survey interviews. Both surveys included measures
of psychological well-being, social well-being and depression. Both samples were
nationally representative of the general population (R3: 1877 participants, 49.2% men;
R6: 1889 participants, 48.9% men).
Results. Data from the R6 survey showed that, compared to data gathered in R3 (i.e.,
before the onset of the recession), Spanish citizens showed significantly less life
satisfaction (95% CIs .37 to .63), less personal optimism (95% CIs .03 to .15), less
social optimism (95% CIs .75 to .85), and higher levels of depressive symptoms (95%
CIs -.74 to -.19). Structural equation modeling revealed that protective factors for
depression changed in both rounds. In R3 (2006), social optimism and social trust
were significant mediators between well-being and depression. Yet, both buffering
variables were no longer significant in R6 (2013). In R6, psychological well-being was
directly related to depression with no further mediation.
Conclusions. Economic crises are associated with a significant increase of depressive
symptoms. Furthermore, financial crises seem to have a corrosive impact on mental
health by reducing the buffering effects of positive beliefs regarding the good nature of