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Title: Enhanced attentional focus on mother and depression: The role of repetitive thinking about mother
Authors: Van de Walle, Magali
Bosmans, Guy
Bijttebier, Patricia
Issue Date: 11-Sep-2014
Host Document: Trust in caregiver's support: Understanding the role of attachment in the development of psychopathology
Conference: European Association for Behavioural and Cognitive Therapies Congress edition:44 location:The Hague, The Netherlands date:10-13 September 2014
Abstract: Depression is a frequent and persistent problem in adolescence and adulthood with severe
consequences, like an increased risk of mortality. Attachment theory and research have linked
depression to attachment-related expectations about maternal support. To date, mechanisms
explaining the association between insecure attachment and depression remain largely unknown.
However, according to recent research an enhanced attentional focus on mother could possibly
explain this relation.
explain this relation.
In the current studies, this biased attentional focus is operationalized as strategic repetitive thinking
about mother (RTM) and automatic attentional narrowing around mother. The current studies
investigated in middle childhood whether the relationship between attachment-related expectations
and depressive symptoms reported by the child (Study 1) or by the mother (Study 2) could be
explained by RTM. Study 3 aimed to explain depressive symptoms by the interplay between RTM
and attentional narrowing around mother.
In Study 1 and 2 was found that RTM explained a significant part of the relation between
attachment-related expectations and depressive symptoms reported by the child as w ell as by the
mother, even after taking into account maladaptive emotion regulation strategies. Children who
reported more trust in maternal support, also reported less RTM and thus show ed less depressive
symptoms. Study 3 show ed that strategic RTM is especially maladaptive w hen it is accompanied by
an automatic attentional narrowing around mother. Children w ho both repetitively think more about
their mother and show a more narrowed attentional focus around mother, have the most
depressive symptoms. These findings suggest that RTM should be considered in CBT targeting
depressive symptoms and explain why depressive symptoms are so difficult to treat.
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: IMa
Appears in Collections:Parenting and Special Education
School Psychology and Child and Adolescent Development

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