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Compr Psychiatry. 2002 Sep-Oct;43(5):344-50.

Autobiographical memory specificity and the course of major depressive disorder.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology, Maastricht University, Maastricht, The Netherlands.


This study examined the stability of autobiographical memory dysfunction (i.e., difficulties in retrieving specific memories) during the course of major depressive disorder, its relation to early adverse experiences, and its influence on the course of depressive disorder. Using the Autobiographical Memory Test (AMT), specificity of autobiographical memory was assessed in 25 subjects with a current depressive disorder at baseline, and at 3 and 7 months follow-up. Also, information about self-reported childhood traumatization, and demographic and clinical variables was obtained. Autobiographical memory performance was relatively stable over time despite clinical improvement in the sample. It was not related to depression severity at baseline, while higher levels of childhood traumatization were correlated with more specific memory performance to negative cue words at baseline, but not during follow-up. Specific autobiographical responses to negative cue words predicted a better prognosis, whereas specific responses to positive cue words were not related to prognosis. Autobiographical memory dysfunction in depression appears to be stable over time, is related to short-term prognosis in depression, and may act as a vulnerability factor that influences the long-term course of depressive disorders.

Copyright 2002, Elsevier Science (USA). All rights reserved.

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