Given the high prevalence and burden of major depressive disorder (MDD), research leading to innovative intervention programs is needed to reduce the number of individuals who suffer from this disorder. Although little work has directly tested increasing the specificity of autobiographical memory as an intervention for depression, there is evidence that memory specificity training could function as an effective, low-cost [intervention for depressive disorders]. The present study proposes to test memory specificity training as an intervention for depression in a sample of [120] late adolescents/emerging adults with [current subthreshold depressive symptoms]. This study will go beyond existing research by assessing the effect of memory specificity training on depressive symptoms against an active control (working memory training) as well as a non-active control condition, in a diverse sample of young adults. Furthermore, we will evaluate rumination, experiential avoidance, and [problem- solving] as mediators of the relationship between memory specificity and depressive symptoms, and evaluate [working memory and stressful life events] as moderators of memory specificity training. Given that the onset of MDD typically occurs between adolescence and early adulthood, and that the college years are a time of academic and interpersonal stress, college may be an ideal period in which to evaluate [interventions for depression]. Participants will complete a baseline evaluation of current depressive symptoms, autobiographical memory, rumination, experiential avoidance, [problem-solving,] working memory, and stressful life events. They will complete two additional assessments: one four weeks from baseline and a follow-up assessment two months from baseline. If participants are assigned to either of the two active training conditions, they will complete four training sessions (either autobiographical memory specificity training or working memory training) over four weeks (one session per week) between the initial and second assessment. This multi- method prospective study may contribute to: [(1) developing effective alternatives or adjuncts to current depression treatment programs, and (2) identification of mechanisms that may further increase the effectiveness of memory specificity training in the reduction of depression symptoms].

Public Health Relevance

Major depressive disorder (MDD) is the most common lifetime mental disorder and is associated with tremendous personal, economic and societal costs. The proposed project is designed to examine memory specificity training as an intervention in young adults at risk for depression. Additionally, this project will provide a better understanding of potential moderators and mechanisms involved in memory specificity training to help inform intervention for individuals at risk for depression.

National Institute of Health (NIH)
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award (F31)
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Special Emphasis Panel (ZMH1)
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Chavez, Mark
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Temple University
Schools of Arts and Sciences
United States
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Stange, Jonathan P; Connolly, Samantha L; Burke, Taylor A et al. (2016) INFLEXIBLE COGNITION PREDICTS FIRST ONSET OF MAJOR DEPRESSIVE EPISODES IN ADOLESCENCE. Depress Anxiety 33:1005-1012
Alloy, Lauren B; Hamilton, Jessica L; Hamlat, Elissa J et al. (2016) Pubertal Development, Emotion Regulatory Styles, and the Emergence of Sex Differences in Internalizing Disorders and Symptoms in Adolescence. Clin Psychol Sci 4:867-881