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J Pers Soc Psychol. 1996 Feb;70(2):271-82.

Social constraints, intrusive thoughts, and depressive symptoms among bereaved mothers.

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Department of Psychology, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 15213, USA.


The study examined how social constraints on discussion of a traumatic experience can interfere with cognitive processing of and recovery from loss. Bereaved mothers were interviewed at 3 weeks (T1), 3 months (T2), and 18 months (T3) after their infants' death. Intrusive thoughts at T1, conceptualized as a marker of cognitive processing, were negatively associated with talking about infant's death at T2 and T3 among socially constrained mothers. The reverse associations were found among unconstrained mothers. Controlling for initial level of distress, there was a positive relation between T1 intrusive thoughts and depressive symptoms over time among socially constrained mothers. However, higher levels of T1 intrusive thoughts were associated with a decrease in T3 depressive symptoms among mothers with unconstrained social relationships.

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