Intrusive memories in depression and posttraumatic stress disorder

Behav Res Ther. 1999 Mar;37(3):201-15. doi: 10.1016/s0005-7967(98)00132-6.


This study compared the stressors and consequent intrusive memories reported by matched samples of patients with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and major depression. Although intrusive memories were slightly more common among PTSD patients, both quantitative and qualitative measures revealed few differences between the groups. PTSD patients were more likely to have experienced personal illness or assault, and depressed patients family deaths and illness, and interpersonal events. Factor analysis of the associated emotions and memory characteristics suggested the existence of specific links between fear and reliving, and helplessness and out-of-body experiences. Possible inhibitory relationships between fear and sadness, and between guilt and anger, were also noted.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Attention*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / diagnosis*
  • Depressive Disorder, Major / psychology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Change Events*
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Middle Aged
  • Personality Inventory
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / diagnosis*
  • Stress Disorders, Post-Traumatic / psychology