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Do Maladaptive Attitudes Cause Depression?

Joseph Shepsel Silverman, MD; Julia Ann Silverman; David A. Eardley, DEd
Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1984;41(1):28-30. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1984.01790120030005.
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• The Dysfunctional Attitude Scale (DAS) is an inventory of beliefs about life. These beliefs attribute happiness to external events and reflect absolute expectations for one's own behavior and that of others. Such beliefs, according to some cognitive theorists, predispose persons to depression. To test this theory, we administered the DAS to private psychiatric outpatients. Thirty-five patients were tested when they were depressed and again when they were asymptomatic. Dysfunctional thinking was found to be more prominent during depression; this finding implies that the dysfunctional thinking of depressed persons is a symptom of their illness rather than a character trait. Next, we compared DAS scores for recovered depressives with scores for other stabilized psychiatric patients and for normal persons. Bipolar patients demonstrated less maladaptive thinking than all other groups. Only the bipolars showed significantly less maladaptive thinking than the major depressives.

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