Depression is by far the most common of psychiatric disorders, accounting for 75% of all psychiatric hospitalizations. Each year more than 100 million people worldwide develop clinically recognizable depression, an incidence ten times greater than that of schizophrenia. Furthermore, during the course of a lifetime, it is estimated that 25% of the general population will experience at least one debilitating episode of depression. In addition to the enormous economic costs of this disorder in terms of lowered productivity, job absenteeism, and permanent withdrawal from the work force, there is also inestimable social damage: grief and pain, marital and family conflict, physical illness and death. Over the past two decades, increasing attention has been given to the study of psychological aspects of depression. Indeed, the number of experimentally-based investigations of the etiology, course, and treatment of depression appearing in psychological journals in recent years has increased dramatically. In particular, researchers have focused on examinations of the cognitive functioning of depressed persons, and on studies of the social context of depression. Unfortunately, these two lines of research have developed and continue to progress virtually independently. Cognitive investigators and theorists take little notice of advances made in the study of social processes in depression; similarly, interpersonally-focused researchers essentially ignore the results of studies examining the cognitive functioning of depressed persons. Moreover, the study of adult depression and childhood depression have remained fairly separate. Two major goals of this book, therefore, are to provide the reader with a critical review and evaluation of theory and research examining both the cognitive and the interpersonal functioning of depressed persons, and to integrate these literatures concerning both adults and children into a more comprehensive conceptualization of depression.
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