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J Abnorm Psychol. 1996 May;105(2):155-65.

Stable trait components of hopelessness: baseline and sensitivity to depression.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.


Hopelessness (H) plays an important theoretical and practical role in depression. The authors hypothesized that a patient's H is comprised of (a) a baseline level of H when not depressed and (b) an increment in H related to the severity of depression at the time and the person's rate of increase in H as a function of severity of depression (sensitivity). Baseline and sensitivity are explanatory stable traits; H and depression are observed, time-varying states. The corresponding statistical model described well the longitudinal data of 316 participants. Baseline and sensitivity were uncorrelated and correlated with different clinical and demographic variables. Baseline predicted a future suicide attempt; sensitivity and H when depressed did not. It may be useful to ask "How hopeless is this person when not depressed and how much more hopeless is he or she when depressed?", rather than simply "How hopeless is this depressed person?"

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