According to research from the University of Liverpool, depressed people have more generalized personal goals than non-depressed people. The study was conducted by Dr. Joanne Dickson at the school’s Institute of Psychology, Health and Society.
For the study, her team analyzed previously-collected data from participants (both depressed and not depressed) which included having them make lists of their personal goals. They were all asked to list the goals that they most want to achieve over the long-, short- and medium-term. The goals included were also listed in accordance to specificity. What they found was that even though both of the groups had the same amount of goals, those with depression were far more general and abstract with their lists. They also found that the depressed participants were a lot less specific in their reasons for achieving or not achieving those goals.
“We know that depression is associated with negative thoughts and a tendency to overgeneralize, particularly in reference to how people think about themselves and their past memories,” says Dickson. “This study, for the first time, examined whether this trait also encompasses personal goals. We found that the goals that people with clinical depression listed lacked a specific focus, making it more difficult to achieve them and therefore creating a downward cycle of negative thoughts.
“These findings could inform the development of effective new ways of treating clinical depression,” she concludes. “Helping depressed people to set specific goals and generate specific reasons for goal achievement may increase their chances of realizing them which could break the cycle of negativity which is coupled with depression.”
Depression is a condition that affects millions of people worldwide. The condition is often treated with antidepressant drugs like Paxil or Effexor. Paxil and Effexor have been known to cause patients to suffer from violent and suicidal thoughts and behavior as well as led to birth defects in babies born to mothers who take the pills while pregnant. The birth defects linked to Paxil use include PPHN, spina bifida, neural tube defects, oral clefts and heart, lung and brain defects.