Mood regulation in depression: Differential effects of distraction and recall of happy memories on sad mood

J Abnorm Psychol. 2007 Aug;116(3):484-90. doi: 10.1037/0021-843X.116.3.484.


Recent research suggests that the recall of positive memories plays an important role in mood regulation. In this study, the authors examined the ability of currently depressed, formerly depressed, and never-depressed participants to regulate sad mood through the recall of positive memories or through distraction. Although improvement in mood was found for all participants in response to distraction, under instructions to recall positive memories, never-depressed participants' moods improved, whereas formerly depressed participants' sad moods remained unchanged. It is important to note that depressed participants exhibited a worsening of their sad moods after recalling positive memories. These results suggest both that depression is associated with an impaired ability to use positive recall to regulate a sad mood and that this impairment continues to be evident following recovery.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Affect*
  • Attention*
  • Depression / psychology*
  • Female
  • Happiness*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mental Recall*
  • Middle Aged
  • Social Control, Informal*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires