People suffering from clinical depression express personal goals and reasons for their attainment or failure in less specific terms than people without the disorder. This lack of specificity in representing personal goals may be partially responsible for the motivational deficits seen in these patients, according to research published May 15 in the open access journal PLOS ONE by Joanne Dickson from the University of Liverpool, UK and Nicholas Moberly from the University of Exeter, UK.
Participants in the study were asked to list specific personally meaningful goals that they thought would characterize them in the future, and were given prompts such as, 'In the future it will be important for me to...'. In a second task, they were asked to list reasons why they would, and would not, achieve their goals.
Compared to non-depressed control participants, depressed individuals' goals tended to be less specific and more abstract, for example 'to be happy', rather than 'to improve my time running the local 10 km race'.. A similar reduced level of specificity was found when reasons for achieving or not reaching personal goals were analyzed. There were no significant differences in the number of goals and reasons, or the kinds of goals provided by depressed and non-depressed participants. The authors suggest that these results may help to improve psychotherapeutic approaches used to treat depression.
Disclaimer: This press release refers to upcoming articles in PLOS ONE. The releases have been provided by the article authors and/or journal staff. Any opinions expressed in these are the personal views of the contributors, and do not necessarily represent the views or policies of PLOS. PLOS expressly disclaims any and all warranties and liability in connection with the information found in the release and article and your use of such information.
About PLOS ONE: PLOS ONE is the first journal of primary research from all areas of science to employ a combination of peer review and post-publication rating and commenting, to maximize the impact of every report it publishes. PLOS ONE is published by the Public Library of Science (PLOS), the open-access publisher whose goal is to make the world's scientific and medical literature a public resource.
All works published in PLOS ONE are Open Access. Everything is immediately available--to read, download, redistribute, include in databases and otherwise use--without cost to anyone, anywhere, subject only to the condition that the original authors and source are properly attributed. For more information about PLOS ONE relevant to journalists, bloggers and press officers, including details of our press release process and our embargo policy, see the everyONE blog at http://everyone.