604 word article
A study (Wang et al.) published in the Journal Of Psychiatric Research has found that symptoms of clinical depression (also referred to as major depressive disorder, abbreviated to MDD) are exacerbated in those who have suffered childhood trauma but only if they also have a tendency to dwell on the past at the expense of focusing on the present and future. The aim of the study was to discover if:
a) the tendency to dwell on the past is the result of depression
b) the tendency to dwell on the past exists in the individuals BEFORE they become clinically depressed/sufferers of major depressive disorder (MDD).
The study involved 162 participants and, using self-reports, these participants were assessed on:
a) The degree to which they suffered childhood trauma
b) What kind of time-perspective the participants predominately took (there were 5 categories of time perspective that were: 1) NEGATIVE PAST, 2) POSITIVE PAST, 3) FATALISTIC PRESENT, 4) HEDONISTIC PRESENT and 5) FUTURE
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RESULTS OF THE STUDY:
It was found that those with clinical depression/MDD had:
a) A significantly more negative view of the past than the mentally healthy participants e.g. I’ve made nothing but mistakes in my past and was never happy
b) A significantly more fatalistic view of the present than the mentally healthy participants. e.g. my future’s going to be as bad as my past or worse and there’s nothing I can do about it
c) A significantly less positive view of the past than the mentally healthy participants. e.g. were significantly less likely to have positive thoughts about the past such as: ‘I have many memories which make me happy’
d) A significantly reduced tendency to take the future perspective than the mentally healthy participants e.g. were significantly less likely to have positive thoughts about the future: such as: ‘I’m looking forward to the future and believe I will achieve a lot.’
WHAT FURTHER ANALYSIS OF THE RESULTS REVEALED:
Further analysis of the results suggested that:
- THE GREATER THE DEGREE OF CHILDHOOD TRAUMA THE INDIVIDUAL HAS SUFFERED, THE GREATER THEIR TENDENCY TO DWELL ON THE PAST (AS OPPOSED TO THE PRESENT AND FUTURE) WHICH, IN TURN, INCREASES THE SEVERITY OF THE SYMPTOMS OF CLINICAL DEPRESSION.
However, it was also found that the experience of childhood trauma was linked to a greater tendency to dwell negatively on the past, to think fatalistically about the present, to think more hedonistically about the present, and less positively about the future BUT ONLY IN THOSE PARTICIPANTS THAT WERE SUFFERING FROM CLINICAL DEPRESSION/MDD. (To learn more detail about TIME PERSPECTIVE THEORY AND TIME PERSPECTIVE THINKING STYLES, CLICK HERE TO READ MY ARTICLE; ‘DO YOU SPEND TOO MUCH TIME NOT LIVING IN THE PRESENT?’)
Also, it was found that participants who underwent treatment for depression:
- experienced a reduction in their depressive symptoms.
- did NOT experience a change in their time-perspective thinking styles.
The researchers inferred from these results that more negative time perspective thinking styles are not the result of clinical depression/MDD but EXIST PRIOR TO DEPRESSION.
The researchers further concluded, in the light of these findings, that TIME PERSPECTIVE THERAPY may be a useful approach to treating depressive symptoms in those who have suffered childhood trauma.
Wang Y, Hu X, Han J, Scalabrini A, Hu Y, Hu Z, Tan Z, Zhang J, Northoff G. Time is of essence – Abnormal time perspectives mediate the impact of childhood trauma on depression severity. J Psychiatr Res. 2021 May;137:534-541. doi: 10.1016/j.jpsychires.2020.10.039. Epub 2020 Oct 31. PMID: 33153758.
David Hosier BSc Hons; MSc; PGDE(FAHE).