Being pessimistic does not always lead someone to psychotherapy. But according to a new study conducted by a group of Finnish researchers, dips in optimism are linked to an increase in people seeking psychotherapy treatment for depressive symptoms. Personality is also a contributing factor for someone to determine whether or not to seek treatment through psychotherapy. However, the study focused on trying to find if there was a clear link between pessimism and optimism and the choice to enter psychotherapy for depressive symptoms in people who had not previously been depressed. The participants were all public sector employees and had responded to several surveys over many years. None of the over 38,000 participants had ever reported symptoms of depression in the past.
The researchers examined the levels of pessimism and optimism using the revised Life Orientation Test, individual records and national health registers. They followed up with the participants after four years and discovered that nearly four percent of the test subjects had developed symptoms of depression. Of that segment, 79 had begun to treat their depression with long-term psychotherapy funded by the state. The researchers also discovered that as optimism increased, the number of people who chose to enter psychotherapy decreased by nearly 38 percent. Additionally, people were 32 percent less likely to enter psychotherapy for any depressive issues when their optimism increased. The researchers also noticed that pessimism did not increase the likelihood of someone initiating psychotherapy for the treatment of depressive symptoms. However, an increase in pessimism showed a 28 percent higher chance of someone developing a problem with depressive moods. The researchers conclude that although both pessimism and optimism can increase the likelihood for developing depression, only a decrease in optimism in linked to the decision to begin psychotherapy for the treatment of depressive symptoms. They add that perhaps more attention should be given to people who have both depression and low optimism.
© Copyright 2011 by By Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC, therapist in Olympia, Washington. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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