A study has suggested that people suffering from depression are more likely to set abstract goals that are difficult to achieve.
A study conducted by Dr Joanne Dickson, University of Liverpool, Institute of Psychology, Health and Society, analysed the lists of personal goals made by people who suffered with depression and those who didn't.
The participants were asked to list goals they would like to achieve at any time in the short, medium or long-term.
The goals were categorised for their specificity - for example a global or abstract goal such as, 'to be happy' would represent a general goal, whereas, a goal such as 'improve my 5-mile marathon time this summer' would represent a more specific goal.
Researchers found that whilst both groups generated the same number of goals, people with depression listed goals which were more general and more abstract.
Having very broad and abstract goals may maintain and exacerbate depression. Goals that are not specific are more ambiguous and, therefore, harder to visualise.
If goals are hard to visualise it may result in reduced expectation of realising them which in turn results in lower motivation to try and achieve them.
Dr Joanne Dickson said that helping depressed people set specific goals and generate specific reasons for goal achievement may increase their chances of realising them which could break the cycle of negativity which is coupled with depression.