Skip to content

The cross-sectional and longitudinal relationship between overgeneral autobiographical memory and adolescent depression in a UK population-based cohort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)621-625
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Early online date3 Feb 2020
DateAccepted/In press - 1 Feb 2020
DateE-pub ahead of print - 3 Feb 2020
DatePublished (current) - 1 Apr 2020


Background: Overgeneral autobiographical memory (OGM), the tendency to recall fewer specific memories and recall more repeated or extended events, is associated with subsequent adult depression. However, prospective associations are only found in adolescents with additional risk factors for depression (e.g. OGM for negative material is associated with subsequent depression in females and those at familial risk of depression) and not in community samples. It remains unclear whether OGM is associated with subsequent depression in population-based adolescent samples or just in high-risk adolescents.

Methods: We examined the relationship between OGM for negative cues (age 13) and adolescent depressive symptoms in a population-based cohort - the Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children. Regression models investigated the association of OGM for negative cues with depressive symptoms at age 12.5 years (n = 3,145) and age 16.5 years (n = 2,345). Associations with alternative measures of OGM were also explored. Gender and maternal depression were examined as potential moderators of these relationships.

Results: OGM for negative cues was associated with both contemporaneous and prospective depressive symptoms. Only OGM for negative cues and total OGM were prospectively associated with depressive symptoms. There was no evidence of moderation by gender or maternal depression.

Limitations: Depression was reported 6 months earlier than OGM.

Conclusions: To our knowledge, this is the first study to find a prospective link between OGM for negative material and depression in a population-based cohort. Results highlight memory biases can precede subsequent adolescent depression in the general population, not just high-risk samples.

    Research areas

  • OGM, overgeneral autobiographical memory, ALSPAC, Avon Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, AMT, Autobiographical Memory Test

    Structured keywords


Download statistics

No data available



  • Full-text PDF (final published version)

    Rights statement: This is the final published version of the article (version of record). It first appeared online via Elsevier at Please refer to any applicable terms of use of the publisher.

    Final published version, 411 KB, PDF document

    Licence: CC BY

  • Supplementary information PDF

    Final published version, 289 KB, PDF document

    Licence: CC BY


View research connections

Related faculties, schools or groups