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‘I am worthless and kind’: the specificity of positive and negative self-evaluation in adolescent depression

Orchard, F., Pass, L. and Reynolds, S. (2018) ‘I am worthless and kind’: the specificity of positive and negative self-evaluation in adolescent depression. British Journal of Clinical Psychology. ISSN 0144-6657

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To link to this item DOI: 10.1111/bjc.12215

Abstract/Summary

Objectives: Adolescence represents a critical phase when the concept of self is developed and consolidated. Depressed adolescents globally endorse more negative and fewer positive self-descriptive words compared with non-depressed adolescents. Yet the methods used have not allowed for more detailed exploration of the specific content of these self-endorsements. Methods: Adolescents, aged 12-18 years, were recruited from the community (n = 204) and from a child and adolescent mental health service in the UK (n = 87). Participants completed measures of depression and a self-description questionnaire which included 12 positive and 12 negative self-descriptive adjectives. Results: As expected, we replicated previous findings that depressive symptoms are associated with global positive and negative self-endorsements. The difference between mean scores was examined for each adjective. Depressed adolescents endorsed all negative adjectives more highly relative to community adolescents; ratings of ‘worthless’ and ‘useless’ had the biggest difference between community and depressed adolescents. Surprisingly, a group of positive prosocial self-descriptors were endorsed equally by depressed and community adolescents and were not associated with severity of depressive symptoms. Conclusions: Although depressed adolescents endorsed more negative descriptions of themselves than community adolescents, positive self-endorsements related to their relationships with other people were not impaired.

Item Type:Article
Refereed:Yes
Divisions:Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Anxiety and Depression in Young People (AnDY)
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Department of Psychology
Faculty of Life Sciences > School of Psychology and Clinical Language Sciences > Psychopathology and Affective Neuroscience
ID Code:80991
Publisher:British Psychological Society

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