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Published Online: 25 July 2011

Delivering Happiness: Translating Positive Psychology Intervention Research for Treating Major and Minor Depressive Disorders

Publication: The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Volume 17, Issue Number 8

Abstract

Despite the availability of many treatment options, depressive disorders remain a global public health problem. Even in affluent nations, 70% of reported cases either do not receive the recommended level of treatment or do not get treated at all, and this percentage does not reflect cases of depression that go unreported due to lack of access to health care, stigma, or other reasons. In developing countries, the World Health Organization estimates that <10% receive proper depression care due to poverty, stigma, and lack of governmental mental health resources and providers. Current treatments do not work for everyone, and even people who achieve remission face a high risk of recurrence and residual disability. The development of low-cost effective interventions that can serve either as initial therapy for mild symptoms or as adjunctive therapy for partial responders to medication is an immense unmet need. Positive activity interventions (PAIs) teach individuals ways to increase their positive thinking, positive affect, and positive behaviors. The majority of such interventions, which have obtained medium-size effect sizes, have been conducted with nondepressed individuals, but two randomized controlled studies in patients with mild clinical depression have reported promising initial findings. In this article, the authors review the relevant literature on the effectiveness of various types of PAIs, draw on social psychology, affective neuroscience and psychophamacology research to propose neural models for how PAIs might relieve depression, and discuss the steps needed to translate the potential promise of PAIs as clinical treatments for individuals with major and minor depressive disorders.

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cover image The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
The Journal of Alternative and Complementary Medicine
Volume 17Issue Number 8August 2011
Pages: 675 - 683
PubMed: 21721928

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Published in print: August 2011
Published online: 25 July 2011
Published ahead of print: 1 July 2011

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Kristin Layous
Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside, CA.
Joseph Chancellor
Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside, CA.
Sonja Lyubomirsky
Department of Psychology, University of California, Riverside, CA.
Lihong Wang
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University, Durham, NC.
P. Murali Doraiswamy
Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, Duke University, Durham, NC.

Notes

Address correspondence to:Sonja Lyubomirsky, PhDDepartment of PsychologyUniversity of CaliforniaRiverside, CA 92521E-mail: [email protected]

Disclosure Statement

P.M.D. has received research grants (through Duke) and served as a paid speaker/advisor for several pharmaceutical companies, advocacy groups, and government agencies. He owns stock in DailyFeats, a company focusing on social wellness. No competing financial interests exist for other authors.

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