- Adult attachment predicts the seven-year course of recurrent depression in primary care
- Journal of Affective Disorders
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
BACKGROUND: Attachment theory posits that attachment has a persistent, long-term impact on depression. Empirical data on associations between adult attachment and the long-term course of depression is, however, scarce. The present study addresses this omission.
METHOD: Primary care patients with a history of depression (n = 103) completed the Experiences in Close Relationships questionnaire measuring adult attachment dimensions (avoidance and anxiety) and styles (secure, preoccupied, dismissing and fearful). The subsequent seven-year course of depression was assessed with the face-to-face administered Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI) and a life-chart interview based on the Longitudinal Interval Follow-up Evaluation (LIFE). At the end of the seven-year follow-up severity of depression was additionally measured with the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI).
RESULTS: The attachment dimensions avoidance and anxiety both showed significant associations during the seven-year course with lower proportions of depressive symptom-free time and higher severity of depression (LIFE and BDI). The secure style predicted compared to preoccupied attachment a significantly higher proportion of symptom-free time (4.97 vs. 1.10 years), compared to dismissing attachment a higher proportion of symptom-free time (4.97 vs. 2.20 years) and lower severity of depression (LIFE: 1.65 vs. 2.14; BDI 6.04 vs. 9.52), and compared to fearful attachment a lower relapse/recurrence rate (45.7% vs. 76.9%), higher proportions of depression diagnosis-free time (7.31 vs. 6.65 years) and symptom-free time (4.97 vs. 0.29 years), and lower severity of depression (LIFE: 1.65 vs. 2.19; BDI 6.04 vs. 15.54).
LIMITATIONS: Sample size was restricted.
CONCLUSION: Insecure attachment predicts an unfavorable course of depression over a seven-year period.
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