The study followed 42 people with depression recruited from two clinics in England. Researchers compared this group to 51 people without depression from the same region.
Each group made a list of goals. People with depression had as many goals as people without depression, suggesting similar levels of motivation. However, people with depression had more avoidance goals and fewer approach goals. According to the researchers’ definitions, approach goals center around positive actions, such as showing more gratitude or taking more walks. Avoidance goals aim to reduce negative outcomes, such as quitting smoking or reducing angry outbursts.pessimism about goals may help explain why people with depression have trouble achieving the goals they set.
The study’s authors say their research provides important clues about goal setting and depression. It may be beneficial for mental health providers working with people with depression to consider helping them set realistic approach goals. By encouraging people with depression to set clear goals, to believe in their ability to achieve those goals, and to persistently pursue goals, providers can help people in therapy move toward more positive outcomes.
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