Delayed affective recovery to daily-life stressors signals a risk for depression

J. De Calheiros Velozo*, G. Lafit, W. Viechtbauer, T. van Amelsvoort, K. Schruers, M. Marcelis, L. Goossens, C. J.P. Simons, P. Delespaul, S. Claes, I. Myin-Germeys, T. Vaessen

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)
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Objective: The aim of this study is to investigate the time to affective recovery from daily-life stressors between healthy controls (HC) and two groups with an increased risk for developing depression: individuals with subclinical symptoms of depression (SSD), and individuals remitted from a depressive episode with residual symptoms of depression (RRS). Method: The experience sampling method (ESM) was used to measure affective recovery to daily-life stressors. Affective recovery was defined as the moment that negative affect (NA) returned to baseline level following the first stressful event of the day. We assessed two different operationalizations of the baseline: NA at the moment before the stressful event (t1), and mean-person NA. The effect of stress intensity, and cumulative stress were also assessed. Results: Survival analyses showed significantly longer recovery times for the at risk groups in comparison to healthy individuals, albeit no significant difference was found between the two at risk groups (i.e. SSD and RRS). There was also an effect of cumulative stress, but not stress intensity on time to recovery in that cumulative stress resulted in significantly longer recovery times for all three groups. Limitations: The present study is limited by the ESM sampling design, assessments take place post-stress and therefore do not capture peak stress. Additionally, we are only able to assess patterns at the group level. Finally, there is a significant age difference between groups. Conclusion: Individuals at risk for depression display a delayed recovery to daily-life stressors when compared to healthy controls, which is not explained by differences in stress intensity or cumulative stress. Understanding what is driving this delay may help combat the development of depression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-506
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Early online date5 Oct 2022
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2023


  • Affect
  • Depression
  • Recovery
  • Stress
  • Survival analyses
  • 2024 OA procedure


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