The prevalence of intrusive memories in adult depression: A meta-analysis

Alexandra Payne (Lead Author), Aleksandra Kralj, Judith Young, Richard Meiser-Stedman

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20 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Intrusive memories have typically been associated with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) but some studies have suggested they can also occur in depression-alone.

Objective: This meta-analysis aimed to estimate the prevalence of intrusive memories in adult depression and to explore methodological and other factors that may moderate this prevalence.

Method: The databases PsycINFO, PsycARTICLES, MedLine, PubMed, CINAHL and Embase were searched for relevant articles, published up to and including July 2016. Studies measuring point prevalence of intrusive memories in adults aged 18 years or above with depression were included and assessed for quality. Meta-analysis was completed under a random effects model.

Results: Seven studies measuring point prevalence of intrusive memories in adult depression were included. The overall pooled prevalence estimate calculated was 76.0% (95% CI 59.4 – 89.4%), reducing to 66.0% (95% CI 51.0 – 79.5%) when restricted to intrusive memories experienced within the week prior to assessment. Heterogeneity was high. Between-groups analyses indicated that adults with depression are as likely to experience intrusive memories as adults with PTSD, and more likely to experience intrusive memories than healthy controls (risk ratio of 2.94, 95% CI 1.53 – 5.67).

Limitations: The strength of conclusions is limited by the small number of studies included. Consideration of the relationship between depression, intrusive memories and trauma exposure is required.

Conclusions: Intrusive memories are experienced by a large majority of adults with depression and may therefore be an important target for cognitive intervention. Larger scale measurement of clinical outcome is needed with identification of individual factors predicting treatment response.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-202
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Early online date9 Apr 2019
Publication statusPublished - 15 Jun 2019

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