Attachment, depression, and coping

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Rundell, Leslie Jane

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This dissertation explores the relationships among depression, attachment, relational schemas, perceived social support, and coping. Utilizing a subliminal priming paradigm, the effects of relational schemas on affect and coping with a stressful event were tested in currently depressed (CD), formerly depressed (FD), and never depressed (ND) individuals. In addition, measures of parental and peer attachment, chronic interpersonal schemas, perceived social support, sociotropy, selfesteem, and attachment to mother, father, and peers were administered. Following the priming procedure, the FD and CD groups showed similar mood responses suggesting similar underlying relational schemas. Surprisingly however, the FD group’s coping was found to be more similar to the ND group, with more reported use of adaptive coping strategies than the CD group. In addition, similarities were found between the FD and ND groups in levels of peer attachment, anxiety in relationships, and perceived social support, as well as their lack of current depressive symptomatology, while the FD and CD groups showed comparable parental attachment, avoidance in relationships, sociotropy, and maternal rejection. The author concludes that FD and CD individuals share depressive cognitive schemata that underlie their similar personality-type traits. In contrast, the FD and ND individuals share in common similar current mood and quality of current social relationships, which appear to influence their coping.