Problem-solving deficits in depressed children, adolescents, and adults

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Psychiatry



Document Type


Medical Subject Headings

Depression; Depressive Disorder; Problem Solving; Interpersonal Relations


Mental and Social Health | Psychiatric and Mental Health | Psychiatry | Psychiatry and Psychology


Recent research has emphasized the importance of interpersonal problems with depression. It has been hypothesized that deficits in interpersonal problem-solving skills may account for many of these problems. Three studies that examined the relationship between problem-solving skills and depression are reported. Problem-solving skills among children, adolescents, and adults were assessed by the Means-Ends Problem Solving Test. Contrary to prediction, there were no differences in problem-solving skills between depressed and nondepressed groups; these findings were consistent across each age group. The external validity of such paper-and-pencil measures of problem solving is questioned; it is suggested that future research focus on how depressed individuals solve real-life problems.


Citation: Doerfler, L. A., Mullins, L., Griffin, N., Siegel, L. J., & Richards, C. S. (1984). Problem solving deficits in depressed children, adolescents, and adults. Cognitive Therapy and Research, 8(5):489-499. DOI 10.1007/BF01173286

At the time of publication, Leonard Doerfler was not yet affiliated with the University of Massachusetts Medical School.