Fighting depression can be a tough battle. Clinicians and experts have been seeking for ways to help people get past this mental disorder. One of the potential solutions, researchers say, is to set positive and attainable goals.
Psychology researchers from the University of Liverpool
, Edith Cowan University, Australia, and the University of Exeter
studied the link between people who have clinical depression and how they set their goals.
For their study, they gathered participants with clinical depression and healthy individuals. 42 of them are diagnosed with clinical depression and the other 51 have no history of depression.
Both groups were asked to list their personal goals classified into two: approach goals (reaching a desirable outcome) and avoidance goals (preventing an undesired outcome).
Lead Author, Associate Professor Joanne Dickson from Edith Cowan University, who is also an Honorary Research Fellow at the University of Liverpool, noticed that there was no difference in how the both groups are motivated to reach their goals.
Associate Professor Dickson, said in an interview
, “This was backed up by the fact that both groups listed a similar number of goals and valued their personal goals similarly. However the group with depression were more pessimistic about achieving their goals and had more difficulty generating goals focused on positive outcomes.
“The group with depression were also more likely to give up on goals they saw as unattainable and at the same time reported greater difficulty in setting new goals to pursue.
“While disengaging from unattainable goals is thought to help break a cycle of goal failure, negative thinking and depression this is complicated by the difficulty in setting new goals for people with depression.”
Though, people with depression turned more pessimistic towards achieving their goals, the importance of this study will help experts alter the way depressed people think about goal setting.
“If we can develop better ways to help people with depression set goals that are achievable and focused on positive outcomes, and assist them in identifying ways to achieve their goals, it is likely to enhance a sense of well-being," Dickson adds.