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Evaluating the Mood State Dependence of Automatic Thoughts and Dysfunctional Attitudes in Remitted Versus Never-Depressed Individuals

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The cognitive model of depression specifies the role of schema-driven negative processing biases in the onset and maintenance of depression. Research has shown that cognitive reactivity, or the ease with which negative thinking patterns are activated by mild changes in negative mood, is related to relapse and recurrence. The goal of this study was to examine cognitive reactivity following a mood prime in individuals vulnerable to depression. Formerly (n = 28) and never (n = 36) depressed individuals were assessed on two measures of negative cognition, the Automatic Thoughts Questionnaire (ATQ) and Dysfunctional Attitudes Scale (DAS), before and after participating in a sad or neutral mood induction procedure (MIP). The negative mood induction resulted in increased belief in negative automatic thoughts across groups; however, only the formerly depressed participants assigned to this condition demonstrated increased DAS scores. Importantly, individuals who completed the neutral mood induction did not exhibit increases in negative cognition, providing evidence against the possibility that the MIP itself may lead to increases in negative cognition. These findings are discussed in relation to understanding the role of negative cognition and vulnerability to depression.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2012

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