Overgeneral autobiographical memory in women: Association with childhood abuse and history of depression in a community sample
Version of Record online: 24 DEC 2010
2010 The British Psychological Society
British Journal of Clinical Psychology
Volume 49, Issue 3, pages 359–372, September 2010
How to Cite
Aglan, A., Williams, J. M. G., Pickles, A. and Hill, J. (2010), Overgeneral autobiographical memory in women: Association with childhood abuse and history of depression in a community sample. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 49: 359–372. doi: 10.1348/014466509X467413
- Issue online: 24 DEC 2010
- Version of Record online: 24 DEC 2010
- Received 14 January 2009; revised version received 30 June 2009
Objective. Numerous studies have reported elevated levels of overgeneral autobiographical memory among depressed patients and also among those previously exposed to a traumatic event. No previous study has examined their joint association with overgeneral memory in a community sample, nor examined whether the associations are with both juvenile- and adult-onset depression.
Methods. The current study examined the relative importance of exposure to childhood abuse and neglect in overgeneral memory of women with and without a history of major depressive disorder (MDD). Autobiographical memory test together with standardized interviews of childhood experiences and MDD were assessed in a risk-stratified community sample of 103 women aged 25–37.
Results. Overgenerality in memory was associated with recalled childhood sexual abuse (CSA) but not other adversities. A history of CSA was predictive of overgeneral memory bias even in the absence of MDD. Our analyses indicated no significant association between a history of MDD and overgeneral memory in women who reported no CSA. However, overgeneral memory was increased in women who reported CSA and MDD with a significant difference found in relation to positive cues, the highest scores being seen among those with adult rather than juvenile-onset depression.
Conclusions. The findings highlight the significance of CSA in predicting overgeneral memory, differential response in relation to positive and negative cue memories, and point to a specific role in the development of depression for overgeneral memory following CSA.