Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

Cognition and Dysphoria in Egypt and Canada: An Examination of the Cognitive Triad

Academic journal article Canadian Journal of Behavioural Science

Cognition and Dysphoria in Egypt and Canada: An Examination of the Cognitive Triad

Article excerpt

Beck's (1979) cognitive triad postulates that depressed and dysphoric individuals hold negative, automatic thoughts about the self, the world and the future. Despite the central role of this hypothesis in the cognitive theory for depression, this prediction has rarely been studied outside of the Western world. This study examined the relationship between dysphoria and a number of inventories designed to assess negative cognitions, in 336 participants from Egypt (n = 150) and Canada (n = 186). Dysphoric individuals in both countries harbored significantly more negative thoughts toward self, world and future than nondysphoric individuals. Additionally, Egyptian participants showed significantly more negative thoughts toward self and world than their Canadian counterparts even after controlling for dysphoria. This investigation supports the cross-cultural validity of the cognitive theory for depression. Strengths and limitations of the current study, as well as areas for future research, are discussed.

Keywords: depression, cognition, culture, cognitive triad, negative thoughts

With an estimated 1-year prevalence of 5.18%, and a life-time prevalence of 8.75% world-wide, depression is one of the most common mental health concerns globally (Dobson & Dozois, 2008a). Such estimates attest to the universal nature of depression; the fact that it afflicts individuals in all geographical locations and of all cultures and political regimes cannot be overstated. Despite the universal importance of depression research, studies that involve individuals of Arab descent have been lacking. This fact is disquieting given evidence of a particularly high prevalence of depression in the Arab region. For instance, Okasha (1999) found the prevalence of depression in urban and rural Egyptian populations to be 11.4 and 19.7%, respectively. Similarly, using the Arabic version of the Diagnostic Interview Schedule, Karam and colleagues (1998) found that the lifetime rate of depression among Lebanese women after the Lebanese war was a staggering 32%. Further, Karam et al. (2006) found that the 1-year prevalence of depression in their Lebanese sample was 17% according to the Composite International Diagnostic Interview (CIDI). Another study (Daradkeh, Ghubash, & Abou-Saleh, 2002) found the lifetime prevalence of depression among United Arab Emirates women to be 10.3% (according to the CIDI). Although no specific estimates were provided, Al-Issa (1990) has also reported high rates of depression in Algeria.

Cogniti ve- behavioural models and treatments have risen as the predominant paradigm in conceptualising and treating depression in the West. Indeed, a large body of literature demonstrates the accuracy and efficacy of this modality with depressed individuals in Western regions (Clark, Beck, & Alford, 1999; Gloaguen, Cottraux, Cucherat, & Blackburn, 1998). Given the ubiquity of depression in the Arab world and the efficacy of the cognitivebehavioural approach in Western countries, it is important to evaluate cogniti ve- behavioural theory with individuals in the Arab region. The present study investigated the validity of fundamental elements of the cogniti ve- behavioural theory for depression with individuals of Arabic heritage.

Cognitive Features of Depression in the West

Researchers have isolated nine core descriptive hypotheses for depression. The negativity hypothesis (Clark et al., 1999), which is the first of such nine hypotheses, claims that depressed individuals experience a predominance of self-referent negative cognitions. The negativity hypothesis is a foundational hypothesis for the remaining eight, and thus, can be considered a core element of the cognitive theory for depression. The term "Negative Cognitive Triad" (which is synonymous with the negativity hypothesis) was coined by Beck (1979) to describe the tripartite nature of the negative cognitions of depressed individuals related to the self, world, and future (Beck, 1967). …

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