Psychological Medicine

Research Article

Description and measurement of concentration problems in depressed patients

Fraser N. Wattsa1 c1 and Robert Sharrocka1

a1 MRC Applied Psychology Unit, Cambridge


Depressed patients commonly complain of concentration problems, yet these have seldom been the focus of systematic investigation. A structured interview about concentration problems was administered to a group of relatively severely depressed patients. Problems in reading and watching television were the most common, and were highly correlated with each other. Direct report of the number of concentration lapses on a reading task was the most generally satisfactory task-performance correlate of complaints of reading/TV concentration problems. Evidence both from this task and from the interview suggests that depressive concentration problems may often be due to ‘mind-wandering’. The correlations with concentration problems with the severity and endogeneity of depression and with state anxiety were generally similar.


c1 Address for correspondence: Dr F. N. Watts, MRC Applied Psychology Unit, 15 Chaucer Road, Cambridge CB2 2EF.