The relation between self-reported PTSD and depression symptoms and the psychological distance of positive and negative events

Stephanus Janssen, Tara Hearne, Melanie Takarangi

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    16 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Background and objectives Psychological distance refers to how far and how long ago an event feels to a person and how distant this person feels from their past self who experienced the event. Psychological distance is related to the recollective experience of the memory, but people with PTSD and depression remember positive and negative events differently. Whereas people with depression tend to have over-general memory, people with PTSD often relive traumatic experiences (i.e., intrusive memories). These findings suggest that people with PTSD might feel close to negative events and that people with depression might feel distant from positive events. Method In the present study, students (N = 103) reported their PTSD and depression symptoms and the psychological distance of highly positive and highly negative events. Results In line with previous work, participants generally felt close to positive experiences and distant from negative experiences. However, this study is the first one to show that participants with more depression symptoms feel psychologically distant from positive events and participants with more PTSD symptoms feel psychologically close to negative events. Limitations Although we did not establish whether the negative event was traumatic and whether the participants with many PTSD and depression symptoms suffered from these disorders, these limitations can be addressed in future research. Conclusions The results emphasize the important role of identifying with positive events in depression and they support the idea that PTSD is caused by the fact that the traumatic event has become central to a person's life story.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)177-184
    Number of pages8
    JournalJournal of Behavior Therapy and Experimental Psychiatry
    Volume48
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2015

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