The psychological characteristics of childhood depression
Rea, Margaret Mason
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The psychological characteristics of childhood depression were examined in a normal and clinical sample of children eight to thirteen years of age. The study was guided by hypotheses aimed at identifying the cognitive correlates of childhood depression. Specifically, it was of interest to determine whether depression in children is associated with low self-esteem, feelings of hopelessness, and a depressive attributional style and whether each of these factors make a unique contribution to the manifestation of depressive symptoms.;Fifty-one children who were psychiatric inpatients and 56 children from two elementary schools participated in the study. Each subject was administered four self-report scales assessing depth of depression, self-esteem (perceived competence), hopelessness and attributional style respectively.;Aspects of the hypotheses put forth in the study were supported by the findings. The findings demonstrated that in both normal and clinical samples of children depressive symptoms are associated with lowered self-esteem, hopelessness concerning the future, and a depressive attributional style. For both groups hopelessness and attributional style were found to be predictors of depression with hopelessness being the best predictor. Self-esteem was found to be a predictor of depression in the normal sample only. The findings clearly delineate the central role of the cognitive characteristics of childhood depression and suggest the need to incorporate the findings into assessment and treatment of child psychopathology.