Intrusive memories and depression following recent non-traumatic negative life events in adolescents

R. Meiser-Stedman, T. Dalgleish, W. Yule, P. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

35 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Research in adults suggests that intrusive memories are not just found in individuals with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), yet there is little evidence concerning the phenomenology of intrusive memories in children and adolescents. The present study investigated the frequency of intrusive memories following a recent negative event in an adolescent school sample, and considered the application of cognitive theory to understanding the maintenance of intrusive memories of recent negative events, and their role in maintaining depression. Methods: High school students (aged 11-18 years; n = 231) completed questionnaires concerning affect experienced during a recent negative event, the frequency of subsequent intrusive memories, memory quality, thought suppression, post-traumatic stress and depressive symptoms. Results: Most participants had experienced at least one intrusive memory in the previous week, at similar rates for traumatic events and life events. In non-trauma exposed youth, peri-event affect and memory quality accounted for unique variance in a regression model of intrusive memory frequency, while peri-event affect, memory quality, and intrusive memory frequency accounted for unique variance in a regression model of depression. Limitations: The study needs replication in younger children. Interview methods may be required to ensure that intrusive memories are being assessed and not intrusive thoughts or ruminations. Conclusions: Intrusive memories are common reaction to negative events in adolescents, and may be involved in maintaining subsequent depressed mood. The nature of event memories may have a role in the maintenance of such psychopathology, and may be a target for psychological interventions in this age group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-78
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number1-3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2012

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