Is flexibility always associated with mental health? A study of coping and depression
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McGill University
University of Calgary
Martin Drapeau   

McGill University, ECP - McGill University, 3700 McTavish, H3A 1Y2 Montreal, Canada
Submission date: 2017-03-02
Final revision date: 2017-12-08
Acceptance date: 2018-01-07
Publication date: 2018-03-11
Arch Psych Psych 2018;20(1):7–11
Aim of the study:
The present study aimed to determine if there is indeed a relationship between coping flexibility, defined as an ability to use a greater variety of coping strategies, and depression scores in patients suffering from major depression

Subject or material and methods:
The participants of this study were clinical patients undergoing cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). The sample was taken from the cognitive-behavioural therapy arm of Jacobson’s landmark study (1996, 2008). Depression was assessed using the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI; Beck, Rush, Shaw & Emery, 1979), coping strategies were identified using the Coping Patterns Rating Scale (CPRS; Perry, Drapeau, & Dunkley, 2005), and coping flexibility was calculated using Gini’s C concentration measure.

No significant association was found between flexibility in coping and severity of depression.

No correlation was found between BDI scores and flexibility scores, suggesting that coping flexibility is not related to depression severity. However, while flexibility in coping, or lack thereof, is not associated with depression severity, it remains to be seen if decreased flexibility in coping is different in individuals suffering from depression when compared to non-depressed individuals.

The absence of a significant association between coping flexibility and depression severity does to some extent call into question theories about flexibility in mental health, or at the very least, it circumscribes them. While mental illness may be related to increased cognitive and behavioral rigidity, it appears that the severity of the illness is unrelated to rigidity.