How Disorder-Specific are Depressive Attributions? A Comparison of Individuals with Depression, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder and Healthy Controls.
Gonzalo D., Kleim B., Donaldson C., Moorey S., Ehlers A.
Depressed individuals tend to assign internal, stable, and global causes to negative events. The present study investigated the specificity of this effect to depression and compared depressive attributional styles of individuals with major depression (MD), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and healthy controls. We indexed attributional style using the depressive attributions questionnaire in 164 participants. Additionally, we assessed appraisals characteristic of PTSD using the post-traumatic cognitions inventory (PTCI), depressive rumination, trauma history, and depression and PTSD symptom severity. Individuals with MD endorsed a depressive attributional style to a greater extent than both individuals with PTSD, who were not depressed, and healthy controls. Depressive attributional style was associated with the severity of depressive and PTSD symptoms, number and distress of traumatic experiences, frequency of rumination, and post-traumatic cognitions. Depressive attributions and PTCI appraisals independently predicted MD and PTSD symptom severity. They may thus be useful in predicting MD and PTSD, and should be targeted in psychological treatments of these conditions.