Perfectionism, Stressful Life Events, and the 1-Year Outcome of Depression

Abstract

Previous research has suggested that dimensions of perfectionism may interact with matching stressors to predict depression, but only one longitudinal study has evaluated such interactions in a clinical sample. This study evaluated whether Hewitt and Flett's perfectionism specific vulnerability model (1993) could account for persistence of depression symptoms over a 1-year period in a group of 157 outpatients with major depressive disorder. All analyses controlled for Time 1 depression symptoms. The main findings were that self-oriented perfectionism interacted with achievement related but not interpersonal life events to predict nonremission at Time 2. The interaction between self-oriented perfectionism and achievement-related life events predicted Time 2 BDI scores at a trend level only (p = .06). Socially prescribed perfectionism was strongly associated with concurrent depression symptoms at Time 1, but did not interact with interpersonal or achievement life events to predict Time 2 outcome and did not predict Time 2 outcome as a main effect. The results provide support for the role of perfectionism in the persistence of depression and for the specific role of self-oriented perfectionism in vulnerability to depression in the context of achievement life events.

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Correspondence to Murray W. Enns.

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Enns, M.W., Cox, B.J. Perfectionism, Stressful Life Events, and the 1-Year Outcome of Depression. Cogn Ther Res 29, 541–553 (2005). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10608-005-2414-8

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Key words

  • perfectionism
  • depression
  • life events
  • vulnerability