Depressed Patients Have As Many Goals As Healthy People, But Describe Them In Vague Terms
Participants in the study were asked to list specific personally meaningful goals that they thought would characterize them in the future, and were given prompts such as, 'In the future it will be important for me to...'. In a second task, they were asked to list reasons why they would, and would not, achieve their goals.
Compared to non-depressed control participants, depressed individuals' goals tended to be less specific and more abstract, for example 'to be happy', rather than 'to improve my time running the local 10 km race'.. A similar reduced level of specificity was found when reasons for achieving or not reaching personal goals were analyzed. There were no significant differences in the number of goals and reasons, or the kinds of goals provided by depressed and non-depressed participants. The authors suggest that these results may help to improve psychotherapeutic approaches used to treat depression.