Mood Regulation in Depression: Differential Effects of Distraction and Recall of Happy Memories on Sad Mood

Jutta Joormann, Matthias Siemer, Ian H. Gotlib

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

196 Scopus citations


Recent research suggests that the recall of positive memories plays an important role in mood regulation. In this study, the authors examined the ability of currently depressed, formerly depressed, and never-depressed participants to regulate sad mood through the recall of positive memories or through distraction. Although improvement in mood was found for all participants in response to distraction, under instructions to recall positive memories, never-depressed participants' moods improved, whereas formerly depressed participants' sad moods remained unchanged. It is important to note that depressed participants exhibited a worsening of their sad moods after recalling positive memories. These results suggest both that depression is associated with an impaired ability to use positive recall to regulate a sad mood and that this impairment continues to be evident following recovery.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)484-490
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of abnormal psychology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2007



  • depression
  • emotion
  • memory
  • mood
  • regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Psychology(all)

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