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Do thinking patterns predict depressive symptoms?

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This study evaluates whether depressive symptomatology is related to the persistence, during recent symptomatic remission, of either dysfunctional attitudes, as hypothesized by Beck's cognitive theory of depression, or attributional biases, as predicted by Seligman's reformulated learned helplessness theory. Biased attributions did not relate either to the course of the depressive disorder or to symptom severity 6 months later. However, consistent with Beck's cognitive theory, dysfunctional attitudes after recent clinical remission correlated with subsequent symptom severity. Persistent dysfunctional attitudes during recent clinical remission may predict subsequent vulnerability to depressive symptoms, or these attitudes may be a more sensitive indicator of persistent depressive psychopathology than the classical signs and symptoms of a depressive episode.

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Correspondence to A. John Rush.

Additional information

This work was supported in part by a grant (MH-35370) from the National Institute of Mental Health to Dr. Rush. The authors wish to express their appreciation to Marie Marks, Judy Bement, and David Savage for their secretarial support; to Donna E. Giles, Ph.D., and Michael A. Schlesser, M. D., for their clinical support; and to Kenneth Z. Altshuler, M. D., for his administrative support.

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Rush, A.J., Weissenburger, J. & Eaves, G. Do thinking patterns predict depressive symptoms?. Cogn Ther Res 10, 225–235 (1986).

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Key words

  • cognition
  • attribution
  • depression