Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
Clin Psychol Rev. 2001 Feb;21(1):63-83.

Remitted depression studies as tests of the cognitive vulnerability hypotheses of depression onset: a critique and conceptual analysis.

Author information

  • 1Pain Management Center, UMD-New Jersey Medical School, 90 Bergen Street, Suite 3400, Newark, NJ 07103, USA.


Investigations of cognitive patterns among individuals who have recovered from a depressive episode (i.e., remitted depressives) have figured importantly in evaluations of the validity of the vulnerability hypotheses of the cognitive theories of depression. However, we suggest that remitted depression studies as typically conducted and interpreted are inadequate tests of the cognitive vulnerability hypotheses of depression onset for four reasons: (1) remitted depression studies are based on the erroneous assumption that cognitive vulnerability should be an immutable trait; (2) remitted depression studies use a logically "backward" participant selection strategy in which participants are selected on the basis of the "dependent" variable (depression) and then compared on the "independent" variable (cognitive vulnerability), which is likely to result in heterogeneity of cognitive vulnerability among both the remitted depressed as well as the nondepressed groups given the causal relations specified in the cognitive theories of depression; (3) many remitted depression studies have ignored the possible activating role of stress in the cognitive vulnerability-stress theories, particularly Beck's theory, and thus, may attempt to assess cognitive vulnerability at a time when it is not operative (i.e., priming hypothesis); and (4) remitted depression studies inappropriately use postmorbid participants to test causal hypotheses, and therefore, are ambiguous about whether negative cognitive styles observed in remitted depressed persons are vulnerabilities as opposed to consequences of depression (i.e., scar hypothesis). As a remedy, we advocate the use of a theory-guided behavioral high-risk strategy to more adequately test the cognitive vulnerability hypotheses of depression onset.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for Elsevier Science
    Loading ...
    Write to the Help Desk