Academic journal article Advances in Mental Health

The Role of Problem Orientation and Cognitive Distortions in Depression and Anxiety Interventions for Young Adults

Academic journal article Advances in Mental Health

The Role of Problem Orientation and Cognitive Distortions in Depression and Anxiety Interventions for Young Adults

Article excerpt

Approximately 1 in 6 young Australians aged 16-24 experiences an anxiety disorder and 1 in 16 experiences an affective disorder within a 12-month time period (Australian Bureau of Statistics, 2008). The highest prevalence of severe disorders is experienced among those with an affective disorder, followed by those with an anxiety disorder (Reavley, Cvetkovski, Jorm, & Lubman, 2010). The consequences of not intervening when the signs and symptoms of these disorders fi rst appear can affect social, educational and vocational outcomes and, in many cases, can have detrimental effects that last a lifespan (Kessler, Foster, Saunders, & Stang, 1995).

Numerous studies have found that defi cits in social problem solving are associated with anxiety and depression symptoms and disorders (e.g., Klein et al., 2011). Interventions that aim to improve social problem-solving abilities can both protect against the development of anxiety and depression (e.g., Bell & D'Zurilla, 2009; Fitzpatrick, Witte, & Schmidt, 2005; Ishikawa, Togasaki, Sato, & Sato, 2006) and signifi cantly reduce the severity of anxiety and depression symptoms in young people (e.g., Eskin, Ertekin, & Demir, 2008; Lerner & Clum, 1990; Rudd et al., 1996). In this study we examine the associations between variables that are known to interfere with treatment effects by acting as barriers to the use of effective problem-solving skills. Our study extends previous research by assessing the extent to which specifi c modifi able cognitive distortions interact with anxiety and depression symptoms to predict a negative problem orientation (NPO) in a sample of young adults.

Social problem solving is the self-generated cognitive-affective-behavioural process through which an individual attempts to identify, discover or invent effective or adaptive strategies for coping with everyday problems in a social environment (D'Zurilla, 1986, 1990; D'Zurilla & Nezu, 1999). Strong social problem-solving abilities reduce the morbidity associated with anxiety and depression by aiding young people to control and modify their health behaviour (Frauenknecht & Black, 2003), and are of key importance in managing emotions and well-being (Siu & Shek, 2010). According to Black and Frauenknecht (1990), social problem solving in young people comprises two complementary sub-processes. The fi rst is the automatic informal process where young people respond to problems by doing what has been done in the past, often by what is easiest. The second is the formal evaluation process that is implemented when the automatic process provides no apparent solution or benefi t.

The evaluation process includes two complementary dimensions: problem orientation and problem-solving skills (e.g., Black & Frauenknecht, 1990; D'Zurilla & Nezu, 1999). Problem orientation is the motivational aspect of the social problem-solving process. It is underpinned by cognitive, affective and behavioural schema that result in 'orienting responses' - the individual's cognitive, affective and behavioural responses to a problem that has no immediate solution or has not been faced before (Frauenknecht & Black, 2003). Depending on these responses, problem orientation will either activate or inhibit a young person's initiation of problem-solving skills, the amount of time and effort they invest in problem solving, their emotions generated by the process, and the effi ciency of their problem-solving performance (D'Zurilla & Sheedy, 1991, 1992).

Within the context of mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention, a positive problem orientation can be understood as a protective factor that facilitates the initiation of proactive problem-solution skills to manage or minimize early signs or symptoms of psychological distress. A NPO - a dimension of problem orientation that is related to, but different from, positive orientation (Maydeu-Olivares & D'Zurilla, 1996) - can be understood as a barrier to active problem solution and, consequently, an important barrier to managing or minimizing early signs or symptoms of psychological distress (D'Zurilla & Nezu, 1999). …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.