HealthDay News — Recalling specific positive life experiences may build resilience and help lower vulnerability to depression among adolescents with a history of early-life stress, according to a research letter published online Jan. 14 in Nature Human Behaviour.

Adrian Dahl Askelund, from the University of Cambridge in the United Kingdom, and colleagues used path modeling to assess whether recalling specific positive memories predicts reduced vulnerability to depression (high morning cortisol and negative self-cognitions during low mood) in 427 adolescents (average age, 14 years) at risk due to early-life stress. Interviews were conducted at baseline and after 12 months.

The researchers found that positive memory specificity was associated with lower morning cortisol and fewer negative self-cognitions during low mood in the course of one year. Positive memory specificity was related to lower depressive symptoms through fewer negative self-cognitions in response to negative life events reported in the study period but not among teens free of stressful life events.

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“With child and adult mental health services underfunded and overstretched, it is critical that we identify new ways to build resilience, particularly in those adolescents who are most at risk for depression,” a coauthor said in a statement.

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