'It was all my fault': negative interpretation bias in depressed adolescents

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The extent to which cognitive models of development and maintenance of depression apply to adolescents is largely untested, despite the widespread application of Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) for depressed adolescents. Cognitive models suggest that negative cognitions, including interpretation bias, play a role in etiology and maintenance of depression. Given that cognitive development is incomplete by the teenage years and that CBT is not superior to non-cognitive treatments in the treatment of adolescent depression, it is important to test the underlying model. The primary aim of this study was to test the hypothesis that interpretation biases are exhibited by depressed adolescents. Four groups of adolescents were recruited: clinically-referred depressed (n = 27), clinically-referred non-depressed (n = 24), community with elevated depression symptoms (n = 42) and healthy community (n = 150). Participants completed a 20 item ambiguous scenarios questionnaire. Clinically-referred depressed adolescents made significantly more negative interpretations and rated scenarios as less pleasant than all other groups. The results suggest that this element of the cognitive model of depression is applicable to adolescents. Other aspects of the model should be tested so that cognitive treatment can be modified or adapted if necessary.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)991-998
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Abnormal Child Psychology
Issue number5
Early online date16 Oct 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2016

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