Middle-aged adults who had a history of depression tended to evaluate their past and current lives in more negative terms than did adults without depression, but this negativity did not extend to their beliefs about the future, the findings showed.
“It turns out that even clinically depressed individuals are characterised by the belief that one’s life in the future will be more satisfying than one’s past and current life,” said psychological scientist and lead researcher Michael Busseri from the Brock University in Canada.
“And this pattern of belief appears to be a risk factor for future depression, even over a 10-year period,” Busseri added.
The researchers analysed data available from the Midlife Development in the United States (MIDUS) survey, a nationally representative sample of middle-aged Americans.
Looking at the participants’ subjective trajectories across all three time points, the researchers found that non-depressed participants showed linear increases in life satisfaction from one point to the next, but depressed participants did not.
Instead, they tended to show a relatively flat trajectory between past and current life satisfaction and then a significant increase between current and future life satisfaction.
The findings were published in the journal Clinical Psychological Science.