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J Behav Ther Exp Psychiatry. 2010 Sep;41(3):199-206. doi: 10.1016/j.jbtep.2010.01.003. Epub 2010 Jan 13.

Implicit self-esteem in recurrently depressed patients.

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Department of Psychology, University of Jena, Humboldtstr. 11, 07743 Jena, Germany.


Negative self-esteem is suggested to play an important role in the recurrence of depressive episodes. This study investigated whether repeated experiences of a negative view of the self within a recurrent course of depression might cause implicit self-esteem to be impaired and negative self-attributes to even be chronically activated beyond remission. We measured implicit self-esteem using an Implicit Association Test. The sample consisted of N = 24 currently depressed patients with first-onset depressive episode, N = 28 currently depressed patients with recurrent depressive episodes, N = 33 currently remitted patients with recurrent depressive episodes, and N = 34 controls with no history of depression. In line with cognitive theories, results revealed significantly lower implicit self-esteem in current depressive patients than in healthy controls but no significant differences in implicit self-esteem between remitted recurrent depressive patients and healthy controls. However, remitted depressive patients with three or more depressive episodes showed a significantly lower implicit self-esteem than those with less than three depressive episodes. The current findings underline the necessity of relapse prevention treatments which not only enhance self-esteem at an explicit but also at an implicit level as well as emphasizing the need for evaluations of treatment efficacy to focus upon both implicit and explicit levels of self-esteem.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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