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J Nerv Ment Dis. 1999 Feb;187(2):80-7.

Long-term changes in defense style among patients recovering from major depression.

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  • 1Hunter Mental Health Services, Newcastle, NSW, Australia.


The long-term stability of ego defenses was examined in a group of 68 patients with major depression being treated in a rural private psychiatric practice. Current symptomatology and dispositional characteristics, including defense style (40-item Defense Style Questionnaire), were assessed pretreatment and at approximately 6 months and 2 years after treatment commenced. Age- and gender-matched comparison groups were also selected from two community-based studies that utilized similar instruments and time periods. The major depression group reported significantly lower usage of mature defenses initially, but with recovery they moved progressively toward the range of mature defenses displayed by the nonpatient comparison group. Neurotic defenses were relatively stable throughout the study, as were immature defenses during the first 6 months. Comparisons between patients who discontinued treatment (N = 24) and those who remained in treatment (N = 33) revealed similar rates of symptom reduction; however, the latter group reported continuing reductions in their use of immature defenses, to a level below that of the nonpatient comparison group.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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