Does How We Remember Predict How We Will Feel? A Longitudinal Study of the Influence of Overgeneral Memory on the Development of Depression in Young People
An increased tendency towards overgeneral memory (OGM) has been associated with depression in young people. How this may impact the early development of depressive symptoms is unclear. This has been difficult to determine due to the lack of longitudinal research in this area, in particular with young people in the community prior to the development of significant depressive symptoms. The current study aimed to investigate how OGM related to the development of depression in a community sample of 235 young people aged 10- to 15-years at baseline. Measures of depression, OGM, and rumination were obtained at baseline and follow-up, one year later. As predicted, and consistent with past findings, an increased tendency towards OGM at follow-up was associated with greater depressive symptoms. However, despite indications from previous work that OGM may also predict depression prior to the emergence of symptoms, the reverse was found with depression predicting OGM over time. This suggests that among the general population, while OGM may be an associated and possible maintaining feature of depression, it appears to be a consequence of experiencing depressive symptoms rather than a significant early predictive or vulnerability factor. Contrary to evidence that rumination may also increase OGM, rumination was not significantly associated with OGM. Limitations, strengths and future directions based on these findings are discussed.