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Counseling and Human Development


Until recently researchers have discussed whether dysthymia and major depression represent distinct conditions or rather different stages along a one-dimensional continuum. This study addresses this question by examining the belief systems of normal, dysthymic, and depressed participants. We explored participants‘ beliefs and differentiated between positive and negative as well as between core and peripheral beliefs. Normal participants showed fewer negative beliefs and negative peripheral beliefs than the dysthymic group, whereas normal participants had more positive beliefs and positive core beliefs as well as fewer negative core beliefs than the depressed group. The hypothesized one-dimensional continuum could not be demonstrated for the belief systems. Instead, the data point to the conclusion that our idea of a one-dimensional continuum reaching from normal to dysthymic to depressed was too simple. Apparently, the differences in the belief systems reported here are related to the chronic character and severity of the mood disorder.

Original Publication Information

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article:

Pössel, Patrick. "Dysthymia and major depression: Distinct conditions or different stages along a one-dimensional continuum?" 2003. Journal of Cognitive Psychotherapy: An International Quarterly, 17(4): 335-346.