It’s often assumed that it’s depression that causes a pessimistic view of the future.
But it could be the other way around, a new study finds.
Being pessimistic about the future may actually cause depression.
Professor Martin Seligman and Ann Marie Roepke reviewed the research on prospection.
Prospection refers to how we think about the future.
Their conclusions are published in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology (Roepke & Seligman, 2015).
They find that there are three ways in which thinking about the future may cause depression:
- Poor generation of possible futures.
- Poor evaluation of possible future.
- Negative beliefs about the future.
Depression also likely feeds back into more negative views of the future, creating a vicious circle.
Fortunately, these types of thinking can be addressed by talk therapies such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).
The study’s authors write:
“Prospection belongs front and centre in the study of depression.
Laboratory studies are needed to confirm that faulty prospection does drive depression and to help us determine how prospection can be improved.
We hope clinical scientists will invest in research on prospection to shed more light on a crucial and underappreciated process that may underlie much more than depression.
An understanding of how prospection shapes psychopathology may enable researchers to create more effective treatments and help distressed individuals to create brighter futures.”
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2013) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
Depressed woman image from Shutterstock
6 Fascinating Ways To Fight Depressive Symptoms
→ This post is part of the series “6 Fascinating Ways To Fight Depressive Symptoms”:
- Depression Caused By How People See The Future, New Study Finds
- Depression: This Tiny Change to Diet Has Protective Effect
- This Way of Socialising Cuts Depression Risk In Half
- Depression Alleviated By Feeling Connected to a Group
- The Type of Facebook Use Linked to Depression