Depressed patients who do not believe they deserve to get better: Prevalence, clinical characteristics, and treatment outcomes

BACKGROUND: The aim of the present report from the Rhode Island Methods to Improve Diagnostic Assessment and Services (MIDAS) project was to examine the demographic and clinical features that distinguished depressed patients who did and did not indicate they deserved to feel better.

METHODS: A total of 490 depressed patients completed a clinical history questionnaire that included a question about whether the patient thought they deserved to feel better, as well as a self-report questionnaire assessing symptoms, positive mental health, coping ability, functioning, and well-being.

RESULTS: Approximately 20% of patients indicated they were unsure or undeserving of feeling better. Patients who did not believe they deserved to get better reported more cognitive symptoms of depression, were more likely to drop out of treatment due to nonattendance, more pessimistic about outcomes upon treatment initiation, more frequently reported suicidal ideation, more frequently reported a history of multiple suicide attempts, and experienced less improvement in their depressive symptoms during treatment.

CONCLUSIONS: A meaningful number of depressed patients seeking treatment did not assert that they deserved to feel better. Efforts to treat individuals who do not believe they deserve to feel better may be less productive if this perspective is not addressed.

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