Diathesis Stress

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Most cognitive models of depression, and by extension cognitive vulnerability models of depression, are explicitly diathesis-stress models; these models argue that depression is the result of the interaction between cognitive factors and environmental stressors. The diathesis-stress approach specifies that, under ordinary conditions, people who are vulnerable to the onset of depression are indistinguishable from nonvulnerable people (Segal & Ingram, 1994). According to this idea, only when confronted with certain stressors do cognitive differences between vulnerable and non-vulnerable people emerge, which then turn into depression for those who are vulnerable (Ingram & Luxton, in press; Monroe & Hadjiyannakis, 2002; Monroe & Simons, 1991; Segal & Shaw, 1986). More specifically, most cognitive models propose that when stressful life events are encountered by vulnerable people, these events precipitate a pattern of negative, biased, self-referent information processing that initiates the first cycle in the downward spin of depression (Segal & Shaw, 1986). Alternatively, individuals who do not possess this diathesis react with an appropriate level of depressive affect to the event, but do not become depressed.

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