Irene Huang

Thought Control Strategies in Depression

  • Faculty Advisor

    Jutta Joormann

  • Faculty Advisor

    Michael Bailey

Published On

May 2015

Originally Published

NURJ Online 2014-15


Depression is often typified by uncontrollable processing of negative information. Research has shown that some strategies to control thoughts are more adaptive than others. This study investigates how the application of five different thought control strategies (distraction, punishment, worry, social control, and reappraisal) can predict depression severity. A community sample of 373 participants completed the Thought Control Questionnaire (TCQ) and Beck Depression Inventory—Second Edition (BDI-II) as part of a larger study.

Four hypotheses are tested in the present study:

1. worry and punishment would predict higher depression severity, and there would be a negative interaction between worry and punishment;
2. distraction and reappraisal would predict lower depression severity;
3. social control would not be significantly associated with depression severity because the social control subscale in TCQ includes both social avoidance (keeping a thought to oneself) and social reassurance (talking to a friend about a thought);
5. social avoidance would predict higher depression severity, whereas social reassurance would predict lower depression severity.
The first hypothesis was confirmed, and the second hypothesis partially confirmed. The application of distraction predicted lower depression severity, while reappraisal was non-significant. Contrary to the third hypothesis, social control was negatively associated with depression severity. Also contrary to the fourth hypothesis, social avoidance predicted lower depression severity, whereas social reassurance was non-significant. Possible explanations for the study results were proposed, and future studies are needed to replicate these findings. This study elucidates the associations between thought control strategies and depression, and offers implications for clinical practice.


Irene Huang


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