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J Anxiety Disord. 2011 Dec;25(8):1032-7. doi: 10.1016/j.janxdis.2011.06.012. Epub 2011 Jul 1.

Prospective mental imagery in patients with major depressive disorder or anxiety disorders.

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Department of Clinical Psychology, University of Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


Prospective negative cognitions are suggested to play an important role in maintaining anxiety disorders and major depressive disorder (MDD). However, little is known about positive prospective mental imagery. This study investigated differences in prospective mental imagery among 27 patients with anxiety disorders, 24 patients with MDD, and 32 control participants. Measures of both deliberately generated and intrusive imagery were completed. Results indicated that both patients with anxiety disorders and those with MDD provided poorer vividness ratings for deliberately generated prospective positive scenarios compared to the control group. Patients with anxiety disorders showed a greater ability to vividly generate imagery for prospective negative scenarios than both patients with MDD and control participants. Finally, both clinical groups reported greater levels of intrusive prospective imagery of personally-relevant events as compared to the control group. The current findings underline the necessity to target prospective positive mental imagery in treating MDD and anxiety disorders.

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