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Hope For Those With Depressive Disposition


Good news for the 13 per cent of the population with depressive personality traits: their negative outlook does not have to be permanent. This has been shown by psychologist Rachel Maddux in new research from Lund University in Sweden.

Depression is a serious and sometimes devastating health problem which affects millions of people worldwide. In her previous work with depressed patients, Rachel Maddux often felt frustrated that treatments were not helpful for all of those diagnosed with depression. The main focus of her thesis therefore asked the question: why is it that some people are helped but others are not?

Her hypothesis was that those with depressive personality traits – chronic melancholics – are more difficult to treat, especially when they suffer from depression. These people generally feel down and worried, have low self-esteem and are dissatisfied with their lives and environment.

Rachel Maddux found that 13 per cent of residents in Lund have these personality traits.

“This is a very large number, but the results are in line with other studies carried out in the US and Canada.”

The next study looked at how many of those who seek help from a psychologist have depressive personality traits – a large portion, 44 per cent. These people were more seriously ill than other patients when they sought specialist help, according to Rachel Maddux.

Contrary to what she had believed, psychotherapy – both cognitive-behavioural and psychodynamic therapy – helped the depressive personality types as much as those without the disposition.

“The interesting thing was that therapy not only improved the depression itself, it also ameliorated the pervasive depressive traits”, says Rachel Maddux.

She cannot say whether the effect is maintained over time. However, she thinks the study indicates that therapy is good for people with this characteristic manner of depressive thinking and behaviour, even if they are not suffering from acute depression.

The main issue for Rachel Maddux’s research still remains: why aren’t all those diagnosed with depression helped by the treatment they receive? Why do antidepressants or talk therapy work for some but not others?

“But now I know that there is hope for those with depressive personality”, says Rachel Maddux. “The next step will be to study other factors that could affect the outcome of treatment; biology, childhood and development, trauma, etc.”

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2 thoughts on “Hope For Those With Depressive Disposition

  • January 29, 2012 at 3:39 pm

    Depression can be triggered by many different inputs but I believe the number one factor is unrealistic SELF expectations.

    These expectations may not ORIGINATE in ones self; in fact they often come of parental or other OUTSIDE ranking influence.

    I.e. the 98 pound (45 kilo)boy who takes on his father’s desire for a football/rugby son as his own desire. Or the mother’s desire for a physician son/daughter. Or the desire of the parents of one or more daughters instead of the son they never had.

    These expectations from OUTSIDE do NOT trigger depression unless/until they are internalised: I.e. the child takes on the expectations as something he/she SHOULD do(but never can/will)

    The depession lifts (mine did) when the VICTIM thows off the expectations which never were suitable to begin with and gets on with using the facilities he/she has on hand.

    An example might be for the (athletic) 98 pound boy to forget the football field and go on down to the local jockey club were he obviously outranks the heavies.

  • January 29, 2012 at 3:53 pm

    Deprssion can be and is caused by unrealistic SELF expectations.

    Such expectations usually ORIGINATE external to the victim and become a problem ONLY when internalised as something one thinks one SHOULD do or be.

    The daughter whose parents wanted a son, the child who could or will not be the physician, lawyer or what ever father or mother desired and considers it his fault that he “FAILS” such exprectations.

    Such expectations can be as rediculous as the 98 pound (45 kilo) boy who will never be the football/rgby player daddy wanted.

    Depression lifts (mine did) when such expectations are seen as the troublesome false items they are and the victim gets on with using his/her own assets to their best ends.

    Eg. The 98 pound boy can forget the football field (except as an occasional spectator) and head on down to the local Jockey Club wher HE has the physical advantage needed f for success.


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