Half of patients who recover from depression are likely to fall into another depressive episode within the first year of recovery, and researchers from the University of Calgary Depression Research Laboratory are conducting a study on relapse of the illness.
The study, divided into three parts, works by inducing a negative mind-state in people who have been depressed in the past and examining the relationship between thought patterns and reversion to depression.
Subjects are asked to recall their three worst memories in order of least to most intense and indicate their mood on a scale of 1 to 100.
"Mood induction from negative experiences can act as a good predictor of relapse," said Keith Dobson, head of the U of C psychology department.
Previous studies show that those who have recently recovered from depression are likely to perceive negative moods to be indicators of relapse. From the results of this study, the researchers hope to improve the approach of cognitive therapy for depressives by emphasizing mindfulness in patients.
"Patients often catastrophize a normal bad mood or sadness," explained Dobson. "We want to teach people to be mindful but accepting of these thoughts. Instead of panicking about the mood, we want them to have neutral thoughts about the emotions."
Depression and anxiety are the two most common disorders among students at the U of C, according to Counselling Centre Director Sharon D. Crozier.
"Many issues have come up in surveys as causes of depression and anxiety," said Crozier. "There are many high expectations placed on students nowadays as well as the stress of relationships and self esteem."