The purpose of the present study was to examine the prevalence of depressive symptoms on the Center for Epidemiologic Studies Depression Scale (CES-D) and the effect of life stressors or social support on depressive symptoms in 303 elderly people receiving social services at home. We conducted a questionnaire survey six times with a 1-month interval. In the initial wave of questionnaires, 92 (31%) scored 16 points or above on the CES-D, indicative of a risk for depression. Before life stressors, subjects with low-level support showed significantly more severe depressive symptoms than those with high-level support. Subjects with low-level support were significantly more depressive after life stressors than they had been before, whereas those with middle- and high-level support showed no such difference. The former and latter results seem to suggest the direct and buffering effects of social support on depressive symptoms, respectively.