P. de Jonge
- Recurrent depression and the role of adult attachment: A prospective and a retrospective study
- Journal of Affective Disorders
- Number of pages
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Psychology Research Institute (PsyRes)
Background: Recurrent depression is associated with interpersonal dysfunctioning which is
related to underlying insecure attachment. In this study we examined associations between adult attachment and the long-term course of depression in depressed primary care patients.
Methods: Depressed primary care patients were 3-monthly assessed during a prospective 3-year follow-up regarding: (1) severity of depression (BDI); and proportions of: (2) depression-free time; (3) depressive symptom-free time; and (4) time on antidepressants (all CIDI interview). Attachment style was assessed by the Experiences in Close Relationships questionnaire at two points in time: (1) one year before the end of follow-up (1-year prospectively followed subsample; n=68); and (2) at the end of the 3-year follow-up (3-year retrospective subsample; n=145). Mixed model analyses and non-parametric tests were used to determine whether different attachment styles were associated with different courses of depression.
Results: Fearfully attached patients in the prospective sample reported a statistically significant worse depression course compared with securely attached patients (adjusted mean BDI 12.7 v. 6.8 respectively; F=3.22; p=0.029),whichwas confirmed in the retrospective sample (adjusted mean BDI 15.7 v. 8.8; F=7.86; pb0.001). They reported significantly more prior depressive episodes and residual symptoms, longer use of antidepressants, and worse social functioning as well.
Limitations: Size of the prospective sample was restricted.
Conclusion: Fearfully attached subjects constitute a particularly vulnerable category of
depressed patients. Information on their attachment style may provide GPs with indications
regarding intensity, goals and approach of treatment.
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