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Representations of the Future in Depression—A Qualitative Study

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Author(s): Ali Sarkohi | Karin Forslund Frykedal | Hazel Holmberg Forsyth | Staffan Larsson | Gerhard Andersson

Journal: Psychology
ISSN 2152-7180

Volume: 04;
Issue: 04;
Start page: 420;
Date: 2013;
Original page

Keywords: Future Thinking | Depression | Ambivalence | Time Horizons

ABSTRACT
Previous studies indicate that the ability to imagine negative or positive future events affects psychological well-being and is a characteristic feature of depression. The aim of this study was to investigate how depressed individuals view their future during different time periods. A total of 15 individuals with a diagnosis of major depression were recruited from a psychiatry clinic and completed a semi-structured qualitative interview. Questions were asked about the situation right now, before becoming depressed, and the future (nearest time, within a year and the upcoming 5 - 10 years). Data were collected and analysed using a qualitative approach inspired by grounded theory. The results showed that depressed individuals experienced a state of “ambivalence”, with negative cognitive, emotional, physical and socioeconomic consequences when they were asked to think about the nearest future. Ambivalence and its negative emotional and cognitive effects were substantially reduced in strength when they were asked about their more distant future. We conclude that the concept of ambivalence in depression and/or anxiety in the present may be an important feature of depression which deserves more attention from both a theoretical and clinical perspective. The use of qualitative approaches in the study of depression is encouraged.
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