Negative Cognitive Styles and Vulnerability to Depression

Negative Cognitive Styles and Vulnerability to Depression

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This research article “Do Negative Cognitive Styles Confer Vulnerability to Depression?” tries to bring on surface the possible causes of depression in daily life and also suggests some possible measures that could be taken to minimize the level of depression. “According to the cognitive-vulnerability hypothesis of depression, negative cognitive styles confer vulnerability to depression when people confront negative life events (p.128).” In this article the authors have successfully proven how negative cognitive styles have confer vulnerability to clinically significant depressive disorders and have helped to increase suicide rate. Biologists suggest that some people feel depressed because of their abnormal biochemical processes going on in their entire system. On the other hand, the cognitive psychologists suggest that the way people interpret their life events could possibly result in their vulnerability to depression.
Cognitive theories of depression suggest that different individuals responses to stressful life events in different way. They further stated that individuals with negative cognitive styles are more likely to develop hopelessness depression. Similarly, individuals with dysfunctional attitudes are more likely to develop reactive depression when they encounter negative events in life that impact on their cognitive vulnerability.
Several studies have shown that negative cognitive styles have increased people’s vulnerability to depression. One such study is the Temple-Wisconsin Cognitive Vulnerability to Depression (CVD) project in which initially nondepressed college freshmen with no other mental disorders were identified as being at high risk (HR) or low risk (LR) based on the presence or absence of negative cognitive styles (p.129). These freshmen were given followed-up assessments, which include self-report and structured interview of stressful life events, cognition, and psychopathology, for every 6 weeks for 2.5 years and then every 4 months for an additional 3 years. They found that the HR freshmen were more vulnerable to develop a first onset of major depressive disorders than the LR freshmen. Also, the recurrence of depression is more common in HR freshmen than in LR freshmen among those participants with past history of depression. In this way the negative cognitive styles is responsible for both recurrence and first onset of clinically significant depression.
The CVD project also shows that HR freshmen were more likely to develop suicidality than LR freshmen during the follow-up period. They also found out that hopelessness has strongly mediated the association between cognitive vulnerability and the development of suicidality. Only the hopeless participants developed suicidality during the follow-up period.

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Individuals who remarks and recalls information about stressful life events are more likely to develop depression because these events have negative implications in their daily life.
The outcomes of CVD project are important because they provide the first insight on the development of clinically significant depression due to negative thinking patterns and hopelessness. After cognitive therapy, reduction in depressed patients’ cognitive styles has significantly reduced the relapse of depression. The authors suggest further research to be done in order to find a more causal relationship between depression onset and negative cognitive styles.
The findings on CVD project have shown that the history of depression on parents of HR and LR participants can potentially affect the cognitive styles of freshmen candidates. Studies have shown that mothers of HR freshman candidates were more likely too have a history of depression and also more episodes of depression in their lifetime compared to mothers of LR candidates. They said that this correlation is due to shared genetic risk for depression or because the participants are learning these negative cognitive styles from their parents. This study also found more dysfunctional attitudes in parents of HR freshmen and these parents provided more negative feedback about their child’s life than parents of LR freshmen. Maltreatment, like emotional abuse, is also responsible for cognitive vulnerability because the abuser is supplying negative cognitions to the victims. CVD project shows a development of depressive episodes in participants who have a history of childhood emotional abuse.
Whether or not a vulnerability factor for depression must always be present is still unsolved. Researchers have found that a continuous level of stress for a longer period of time can induce changes in immune functioning and chronic stress can produce long-term changes. And, according to hopelessness theory, the predicted level of vulnerability to depression is amplified by an individual’s cognitive styles. Studies also have shown that individual’s cognitive styles vary according to their depression status, with more devastating results when people are in depressed episodes compared to when they have recovered from the episode.
Finally, the risk for the first onset and recurrences of clinically proven depressive disorders are likely to be caused by negative cognitive styles and negatively biased self-referent information processing. Although this study focuses more on psychological aspects of depression, they also have interesting findings about the biological causes for depression.
One’s cognitive styles indicate how vulnerable he/she is to depression. Everyone is almost certain that negative cognitive styles and meditation leads to depression. Depression is seen in people of any age group, but it is more common in adolescence when they are trying to define themselves and their role in their society. Children and elderly people are also equally vulnerable to depression because they experience more negative events but have low level of tolerance. It is not stated in this article but the way people grow up also has important effect on his/her cognitive styles. I have a friend who speaks same language and grew up in same part of the country, but in different atmosphere. I was grown up in refugee camp since I was there and he never been to refugee camp. Now we both are in US and also in same university. I am always jealous of him because he is successful in every single aspect of his life and I am not doing great as him. What I mean to say is that my childhood environment has negative consequences on my cognitive styles, which made me more vulnerable to depression compared to my friend who grew up in peaceful environment.
After reading this article I felt like I am most likely to be depressed in near future because of the pessimistic feeling I have in me. I can easily say that I am optimistic when asked by my beloved one but this article really touches my inner core. I do accept that there is a biological factor associated with the onset of depression on me but none of my parents seems to have the symptoms for depression. So, this left me to link the vulnerability of depression with my cognitive styles.
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Works Cited

Alloy, L.B., Abramson, L.Y., & Francis, E.L. (1999). Do negative cognitive styles confer vulnerability to depression? Current Directions in Psychological Science, 8, 128-132.
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