January 1984

Do Maladaptive Attitudes Cause Depression?

Author Affiliations

From the Departments of Psychiatry, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and The Altoona (Pa) Hospital; and the Department of Family Practice, Milton S. Hershey School of Medicine, Hershey, Pa (Dr Silverman). Ms Silverman is a student at Harvard University, Cambridge, Mass. Dr Eardley is a school psychologist with the Appalachia Intermediate Unit 08, Hollidaysburg, Pa.

Arch Gen Psychiatry. 1984;41(1):28-30. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.1984.01790120030005

• The Dysfunctional Attitude Scale (DAS) is an inventory of beliefs about life. These beliefs attribute happiness to external events and reflect absolute expectations for one's own behavior and that of others. Such beliefs, according to some cognitive theorists, predispose persons to depression. To test this theory, we administered the DAS to private psychiatric outpatients. Thirty-five patients were tested when they were depressed and again when they were asymptomatic. Dysfunctional thinking was found to be more prominent during depression; this finding implies that the dysfunctional thinking of depressed persons is a symptom of their illness rather than a character trait. Next, we compared DAS scores for recovered depressives with scores for other stabilized psychiatric patients and for normal persons. Bipolar patients demonstrated less maladaptive thinking than all other groups. Only the bipolars showed significantly less maladaptive thinking than the major depressives.