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ERIC Number: EJ945189
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2011-Oct
Pages: 20
Abstractor: As Provided
Reference Count: 77
ISSN: ISSN-0033-295X
Recurrence in Major Depression: A Conceptual Analysis
Monroe, Scott M.; Harkness, Kate L.
Psychological Review, v118 n4 p655-674 Oct 2011
Theory and research on major depression have increasingly assumed a recurrent and chronic disease model. Yet not all people who become depressed suffer recurrences, suggesting that depression is also an acute, time-limited condition. However, few if any risk indicators are available to forecast which of the initially depressed will or will not recur. This prognostic impasse may be a result of problems in conceptualizing the nature of recurrence in depression. In the current paper we first provide a conceptual analysis of the assumptions and theoretical systems that presently structure thinking on recurrence. This analysis reveals key concerns that have distorted views about the long-term course of depression. Second, as a consequence of these theoretical problems we suggest that investigative attention has been biased toward recurrent forms of depression and away from acute, time-limited conditions. Third, an analysis of how these theoretical problems have influenced research practices reveals that an essential comparison group has been omitted from research on recurrence: people with a single lifetime episode of depression. We suggest that this startling omission may explain why so few predictors of recurrence have as yet been found. Finally, we examine the reasons for this oversight, document the validity of depression as an acute, time-limited disorder, and provide suggestions for future research with the goal of discovering early risk indicators for recurrent depression. (Contains 4 figures, 2 tables and 11 footnotes.)
American Psychological Association. Journals Department, 750 First Street NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242. Tel: 800-374-2721; Tel: 202-336-5510; Fax: 202-336-5502; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Evaluative
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A