City Research Online

Depression Across Early, Middle and Late Adulthood

Rezek, C. (2002). Depression Across Early, Middle and Late Adulthood. (Unpublished Doctoral thesis, City, University of London)


The retrieval, recall and inhibition of past traumatic experiences (excluding PTSD) have been researched (Brewin, Hunter, Carroll, & Tata, 1996; Kukyen & Brewin, 1994, 1995; Myers, Brewin, & Power, 1992; Spenceley & Jerrom, 1997), and one consistent finding has been that depressed individuals score high on both intrusion and avoidance of traumatic memories, as measured on the Impact of Event Scale (Horowitz, Wilner, & Alvarez, 1979). However, as they recover, the extent of intrusion decreases but the level of avoidance remains high. This study proposed to further develop the understanding of the avoidance component of traumatic memories in symptomatic, recovering and never depressed individuals, and to examine whether those who do successfully avoid intrusive memories are also more able to inhibit negative emotional material, when directed to do so. The findings suggest that people who have never been clinically depressed exhibit significantly lower levels of intrusion and avoidance of unpleasant memories, which appears to allow for more cognitive flexibility and a greater capacity to process material, in this case to recall words, than depressed and recovering depressed individuals. However, the enhanced recall of the recovering group over the depressed group may be due to a process whereby as the severity of the depression decreases so the capacity to process trauma increases. The recovering group were not found to differ significantly from the control group on a number of dimensions and the argument that the depressed and recovering depressed groups belong on a continuum different from the never depressed group was not supported. The widespread ramifications of depression and stressful life events on the individuals’ cognitive and emotional well-being were discussed, as were the clinical implications. This research emphasises the high level of co-existence between a diagnosis of depression and the occurrence of a life event that the individual perceives as traumatic, even though such experiences do not meet the criteria of PTSD. It also emphasises the value of integrating research findings from the areas of neuroscience and trauma with that of depression.

Publication Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Subjects: B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
Departments: School of Health & Psychological Sciences > Psychology
School of Health & Psychological Sciences > School of Health & Psychological Sciences Doctoral Theses
Doctoral Theses
[thumbnail of Rezek thesis 2002 PDF-A.pdf]
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