Core Studies - Disorder

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Aim: To compare the amount of 'positive reinforcement' received by depressed and non-depressed participants.

Sample: 30 p's diagnosed with depression, another disorder or 'normal' controls.

Procedure: Over 30 days p's completed a self-report on pleasant activities and a rating scale on depression. P's checked their mood daily using the Depression Adjective Checklist, the p's checked emotions they felt that day. They also rated 320 activities on the Pleasant Activities Checklist, this was done twice; once for pleasantness and once for frequency.

Findings: Significant positive correlation between mood ratings and pleasant activities.| More pleasant activities resulted in more positive mood ratings.| Individual differences were present suggesting there is more to depression than reinforcement from pleasant activities.

Conclusions: Appears to be a link between reinforcement from pleasant activities and mood, but further research is needed to identify the individual differences that make some people more influenced by pleasant activities than others.

Criticisms: Self-report method - good and bad, individual differences, lack of usefulness.

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Seligman - learned helplessness

Seligman found that dogs given an electric shock which they could not escape would show learned behaviours 24 hours later. These behaviours included not trying to escape, not following one escape with another and passively enduring the shock. Seligman concluded that the dogs learned that their response and outcome were not related so they stopped responding to the shocks.

This was then related to humans with depression. The core depressive symptom is that no matter what you do, nothing will change, which is in other words learned helplessness. Seligman looked at the symptoms of learned helplessness and of depression and found similarities, including; passivity, lowered aggression, loss of appetite, feelings of helplessness, negative expectations, depletion of chemicals such as catecholamine.

He also found the cause, uncontrollable negative situations and the successful therapies were the same. He concluded that depression could be classed as a manifestation of learned helplessness.

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Aim: To evaluate the efficacy of a 'coping with depression' course.

Sample: 69 adolescents aged 15-18 with depression.

Procedure: Were assessed by interview on several depression measures such as Beck's Depression Inventory. They were randomly assigned to groups; Group 1 only the adolscent recieved the course. Group 2 the adoolescent received the course and the parents were enrolled on a seperarte course. Group 3 p's were on a waiting list and were given treatment at end of study. P's had interviews 1, 6, 12 and 24 months after the course. Treatment was controlled by having detailed manuals for therapists and homework for p's. Parents were taught to reinforce expected positive changes in the children. The p's had 14, 2 hour sessions for 7 weeks and given skills training.

Findings: 52% of group 2 met DSM criteria for depression.| 57% of group 1 diagnosed with depression.| 94.7% of group 3 still met depression criteria.

Conclusions: The 'coping with depression' course reinforces changes in negative behaviour with rewarding pleasant events and positive parental reinforcement. Although there is an element of cognitive, behavioural reinforcement is key to this treatment.

Criticisms: Ethical issues, validity of treatment.

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Aim: To compare the effectiveness of rational therapy, psychoanalysis and psychoanalytically oriented therapy.

Sample: 78 p's treated with rational analysis matched with 78 p's treated with psychoanalytically orriented therapy along with 16 p's who had been treated with orthodox psychoanalysis.

Procedure: A review of patients' cases from therapists' notes. The p's had been previously treated with the allocated therapy. Their outcomes were compared.

Findings: Rational psychotherapy group had 90% showing improvement.| Psychoanalysis-oriented group improvement was 63%.| Orthodox psychoanalysis group improvement was 50%.|  Each client had several irratioanl ideas.| The most improvement was in p's who changed these ideas.

Conclusions: Rational cognitive therapy leads to better treatment of depression than psychoanalytically based therapies.

Criticisms: Subjective data.| Individual differences.

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