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Beyond words: Sensory properties of depressive thoughts
Univ Hamburg, Dept Psychiat & Psychotherapy, D-20246 Hamburg, Germany.ORCID iD: 0000-0001-8601-0143
Univ Hamburg, Dept Psychiat & Psychotherapy, D-20246 Hamburg, Germany.
Univ Hamburg, Dept Psychiat & Psychotherapy, D-20246 Hamburg, Germany.
Univ Bern, Dept Clin Psychol & Psychotherapy, Bern, Switzerland.ORCID iD: 0000-0002-2432-7791
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2014 (English)In: Cognition & Emotion, ISSN 0269-9931, E-ISSN 1464-0600, Vol. 28, no 6, p. 1047-1056Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Verbal thoughts (such as negative cognitions) and sensory phenomena (such as visual mental imagery) are usually conceptualised as distinct mental experiences. The present study examined to what extent depressive thoughts are accompanied by sensory experiences and how this is associated with symptom severity, insight of illness and quality of life. A large sample of mildly to moderately depressed patients (N = 356) was recruited from multiple sources and asked about sensory properties of their depressive thoughts in an online study. Diagnostic status and symptom severity were established over a telephone interview with trained raters. Sensory properties of negative thoughts were reported by 56.5% of the sample (i.e., sensation in at least one sensory modality). The highest prevalence was seen for bodily (39.6%) followed by auditory (30.6%) and visual (27.2%) sensations. Patients reporting sensory properties of thoughts showed more severe psychopathological symptoms than those who did not. The degree of perceptuality was marginally associated with quality of life. The findings support the notion that depressive thoughts are not only verbal but commonly accompanied by sensory experiences. The perceptuality of depressive thoughts and the resulting sense of authenticity may contribute to the emotional impact and pervasiveness of such thoughts, making them difficult to dismiss for their holder.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
ROUTLEDGE JOURNALS, TAYLOR & FRANCIS LTD , 2014. Vol. 28, no 6, p. 1047-1056
Keywords [en]
Depression, Rumination, Mental imagery, Sensory processing, Hallucinations, Vividness
National Category
Psychiatry
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:uu:diva-405229DOI: 10.1080/02699931.2013.868342ISI: 000337979700006PubMedID: 24359124OAI: oai:DiVA.org:uu-405229DiVA, id: diva2:1396929
Available from: 2020-02-26 Created: 2020-02-26 Last updated: 2020-02-26

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Holmes, Emily A.

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Moritz, SteffenBerger, ThomasHolmes, Emily A.Lutz, WolfgangKlein, Jan Philipp
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