Share This Article:

Meaning in Life, Psychological Well-Being and Depressive Symptomatology: A Comparative Study

Full-Text HTML Download Download as PDF (Size:214KB) PP. 337-345
DOI: 10.4236/psych.2012.34048    8,541 Downloads   16,068 Views   Citations

ABSTRACT

The purpose of the present study was to examine the relationship of meaning in life and its dimensions to depression and general psychological health, as well as the differences concerning the meaning of life among individuals with low, moderate and high depressive symptomatology. A sample of 401 newly recruited young men for their national service in the navy, completed four questionnaires on meaning in life, depressive symptomatology, psychological health and socio-demographic factors. Significant associations were found between meaning in life and depressive symptoms. As expected, subjects with higher life meaning were found to have lower depressive symptomatology, while subjects with higher depression scores were found to have a lower sense of meaning in life. However, concerning the meaning in life dimensions, only the “contentedness with life” and the “goal achievement” significantly differentiated individuals of low, moderate and high depressive symptomatology. Furthermore, statistical significant correlations were found between meaning in life and the four dimensions of general health. In the same vein, the comparison between individuals with the lower and the higher meaning of life has shown that the two groups differ significantly with regards to psychological health: those with higher meaning of life present a better psychological health. Finally, being married or involved in a romantic relationship, as well as participation in social activities are proven to be significant sources of meaning. These findings point to a definite relationship of meaning in life with depression and psychological health. Implications for psychotherapy and counselling are discussed.

Cite this paper

Kleftaras, G. & Psarra, E. (2012). Meaning in Life, Psychological Well-Being and Depressive Symptomatology: A Comparative Study. Psychology, 3, 337-345. doi: 10.4236/psych.2012.34048.

References

[1] Arrindell, W. A., Steptoe, A. A., & Wardle, J. J. (2003). Higher levels of state depression in masculine than in feminine nations. Behaviour Research And Therapy, 41, 809-817. doi:10.1016/S0005-7967(02)00185-7
[2] Brown, D. R., Ahmed, F., Gary, L. E., & Milburn, N. G. (1995). Major depression in a community sample of African Americans. American Journal of Psychiatry, 152, 373-378.
[3] Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) (2000). National center for injury prevention and control. URL (last checked 1 February 2008). http://www.cdc.gov/ncipc/pub-res/youthsui.htm
[4] Chamberlain, K., & Zika, S. (1988). Measuring meaning in life: An examination of three scales. Personality and Individual Differences, 9, 589-596. doi:10.1016/0191-8869(88)90157-2
[5] Chan, D. W. (2009). Orientations to happiness and subjective well- being among Chinese prospective and in-service teachers in Hong Kong. Educational Psychology, 29, 139-151. doi:10.1080/01443410802570907
[6] Chou, K.-L. (2000). Intimacy and psychosocial adjustment in Hong Kong Chinese adolescents. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 161, 141- 151. doi:10.1080/00221320009596701
[7] Compton, W. C. (2000). Meaningfulness as a mediator of subjective well-being. Psychological Reports, 87, 156-160.
[8] Coyle, B. (1998). Restoring meaning and purpose after the death of a child: A qualitative psychological study. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences & Engineering, 59, 1363.
[9] Crumbaugh, J. C. (1968). Cross-validation of Purpose in Life Test based on Frankl’s concepts. Journal of Individual Psychology, 24, 74-81.
[10] Crumbaugh, J. C., & Maholick, L. T. (1964). An experimental study in existentialism: The psychometric approach to Frankl’s concept of noogenic neurosis. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 20, 589-596.
[11] Crumbaugh, J. C., & Maholick, L. T. (1969). Manual of instructions for the Purpose-in-Life-Test. Munster: Psychometric Affiliates.
[12] Debats, D. L. (1996). Meaning in life: Clinical relevance and predictive power. British Journal of Clinical Psychology, 35, 503-516. doi:10.1111/j.2044-8260.1996.tb01207.x
[13] Desormeaux, L. (2000). Meaning: Relationship to coping mechanisms and well-being. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences & Engineering, 61, 3274.
[14] Fitzpatrick, J. J. (2009). Preventing suicide: Developing meaning in life. Archives of Psychiatric Nursing, 23, 275-276. doi:10.1016/j.apnu.2009.06.002
[15] Florkowski, A., Gruszczynski, W., & Wawrzyniak, Z. (2001). Evaluation of psychopathological factors and origins of suicides committed by soldiers. Military Medicine, 166, 44-47.
[16] James, F. A. P., & Leung, N. (2009). Existential well-being in younger and older people with anorexia nervosa—A preliminary investigation. European Eating Disorders Review, 17, 24-30.
[17] Frankl, V. (1959). Man’s search for meaning. London: Hodder & Stoughton.
[18] Frankl, V. (1967). Psychotherapy and existentialism: Selected papers on logotherapy. New York: Simon and Schuster.
[19] Frankl, V. (1969). The will to meaning: Foundations and applications of logotherapy. New York: Meridian.
[20] Frankl, V. (1973). The doctor and the soul. From psychotherapy to logotherapy. New York: Random House.
[21] Garfield, C. A. (1973). A psychometric and clinical investigation of Frankl’s concept of existential vacuum and of anomia. Psychiatry, 36, 396-408.
[22] Garyfalos, G, Karastergiou, I., & Adamopoulou, M. (1991). Greek version of the General Health Questionnaire: Accuracy of translation and validity. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, 84, 371-378. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0447.1991.tb03162.x
[23] Goldberg, D. P., & Hillier, V. F. (1979). A scaled version of the General health Questionnaire. Psychological Medicine, 9, 139-145. doi:10.1017/S0033291700021644
[24] Goldberg, D. P., & Williams, E. (1988). A user’s guide to the G.H.Q. Windsor: NFER-Nelson.
[25] Halama, P., & Dedova, M. (2007). Meaning in life and hope as predictors of positive mental health: Do they explain residual variance not predicted by personality traits? Studia Psychologica, 49, 191-200.
[26] Harlow, L. L., Newcomb, M. D., & Bentler, P. M. (1986). Depression, self-derogation, substance use, and suicide ideation: Lack of purpose in life as a mediational factor. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 42, 5-21. doi:10.1002/1097-4679(198601)42:1<5::AID-JCLP2270420102>3.0.CO;2-9
[27] Hart, S., Fonareva, I., Merluzzi, N., & Mohr, D. C. (2005). Treatment for depression and its relationship to improvement in quality of life and psychological well-being in multiple sclerosis patients. Quality of Life Research, 14, 695-703. doi:10.1007/s11136-004-1364-z
[28] Heisel, M. J., & Flett, G. L. (2004). Purpose in life, satisfaction with life, and suicide ideation in a clinical sample. Journal of Psychopa- thology & Behavioral Assessment, 26, 127-135. doi:10.1023/B:JOBA.0000013660.22413.e0
[29] Herrera, N. C. (2001). Birth rank and personality: Beliefs and their consequences. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences & Engineering, 61, 5054.
[30] Herrera, N. C., Zajonc, R. B., & Wieczorkowska, G. (2003). Beliefs about birth rank and their reflection in reality. Journal of Personality & Social Psychology, 85, 142-150. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.85.1.142
[31] Ho, M. Y., Cheung, F. M., & Cheung, S. F. (2010). The role of mean- ing in life and optimism in promoting well-being. Personality and Individual Differences, 48, 658-663. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2010.01.008
[32] Holahan, C. K., Holahan, C. J., & Suzuki, R. (2008). Purposiveness, physical activity, and perceived health in cardiac patients. Disability and Rehabilitation, 30, 1772-1778. doi:10.1080/10428190701661508
[33] Jaarsma, T. A., Pool, G., Ranchor, A. V., & Sanderman, R. (2007). The concept and measurement of meaning in life in Dutch cancer patients. Psycho-Oncology, 16, 241-248. doi:10.1002/pon.1056
[34] James, A. (1993). Evolution des conduites suicidaires dans les armées en France. Psychologie Médicale, 25, 325-327.
[35] Jorm, A. F. (2000). Does old age reduce the risk of anxiety and depression? A review of epidemiological studies across the adult life span. Psychological Medicine, 30, 11-22. doi:10.1017/S0033291799001452
[36] Kang, K. A., Shim, J. S., Jeon, D. G., & Koh, M. S. (2009). The effects of logotherapy on meaning in life and quality of life of late adolescents with terminal cancer. Journal of Korean Academy of Nursing, 39, 759-768. doi:10.4040/jkan.2009.39.6.759
[37] Kendricks, L., Anderson, N., & Moore, B. (2007). Perceptions of depression among young African American men. Family and Community Health, 30, 63-73.
[38] Kessler, R., & Walters, E. (1998). Epidemiology of DSM-III-R major depression and minor depression among adolescents and young adults in the National Comorbidity Survey. Depression Anxiety, 7, 3-14. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1520-6394(1998)7:1<3::AID-DA2>3.0.CO;2-F
[39] Kleftaras, G. (2000). Interpersonal problem-solving of means-ends thinking, frequency and strength of pleasant and unpleasant activities and symptoms of depression in French older adults. Physical and Occupational Therapy in Geriatrics, 17, 43-63. doi:10.1080/J148v17n04_04
[40] Kleftaras, G., & Tzonichaki, I. (2010). Perceived locus of control and depression among Greek young and older adults. Review of Counselling and Guidance, 91-92, 33-46.
[41] Kleftaras, G., & Tzonichaki, Ι. (2012). Questionnaire d’auto-evaluation de la symptomatologie dépressive [in Greek]. In Α. Stalikas, S. Triliva, & P. Roussi (Eds.), The psychometric tools in Greece. Athens: Ellinika Grammata.
[42] Kleftaras, G., & Psarra, Ε. (2012). Purpose in life test [in Greek]. In Α. Stalikas, S. Triliva, & P. Roussi (Eds.), The psychometric tools in Greece. Athens: Ellinika Grammata.
[43] Kleftaras, G., & Psarra, Ε. (in press). Meaning in life: Scale’s facto-rial structure and psychological well-being [in Greek]. Review of Counselling and Guidance.
[44] Klerman, G. (1988). The current age of youthful melancholia. Evidence for increase in depression among adolescents and young adults. British Journal of Psychiatry, 152, 4-14. doi:10.1192/bjp.152.1.4
[45] Klerman, G., & Weissman, M. (1989). Increasing rates of depression. Journal of the American Medical Association, 262, 2229-2235. doi:10.1001/jama.1989.03420150079041
[46] Krause, N. (2009). Meaning in life and mortality. Journals of Gerontology: Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social sciences, 64, 517-527. doi:10.1093/geronb/gbp047
[47] Labelle, R., Alain, M., Bastin, E., Bouffard, L., Dube, M., & Lapierre, S. (2001). Well-being and psychological stress: Toward a hierarchi- cal, cognitive-affective model in mental health. Revue Quebecoise de Psychologie, 22, 71-87.
[48] Lethborg, C, Aranda, S., Cox, S., & Kissane, D. (2007). To what extent does meaning mediate adaptation to cancer? The relationship between physical suffering, meaning in life, and connection to others in adjustment to cancer. Palliative & Supportive Care, 5, 377-388. doi:10.1017/S1478951507000570
[49] Logsdon, R. G., & Teri, L. (1997). The pleasant events schedule-AD: Psychometric properties and relationship to depression and cognition in Alzheimer’s disease patients. Gerontologist, 37, 40-45. doi:10.1093/geront/37.1.40
[50] Lu, L. (1995). Life events, social support, and depression among Taiwanese female. Journal of Social Psychology, 135, 185-190. doi:10.1080/00224545.1995.9711422
[51] Lyon, D. E. (1997). A causal model of the effects of existential well- being on the relationship between severity of human immunodefi- ciency virus (HIV) disease and depression. Dissertation Abstracts International: Section B: The Sciences & Engineering, 58, 1214.
[52] Lyon, D. E., & Younger, J. B. (2001). Purpose in life and depressive symptoms in persons living with HIV Disease. Journal of Nursing Scholarship, 33, 129-133. doi:10.1111/j.1547-5069.2001.00129.x
[53] Maddi, S. R. (1967). The existential neurosis. Journal of Abnormal Psychology, 72, 311-325. doi:10.1037/h0020103
[54] Mascaro, N., & Rosen, D. H. (2005). Existential meaning’s role in the enhancement of hope and prevention of depressive symptoms. Jour- nal of Personality, 73, 985-1013. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.2005.00336.x
[55] Mascaro, N., & Rosen, D. H. (2008). Assessment of existential meaning and its longitudinal relations with depressive symptoms. Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, 27, 576-599. doi:10.1521/jscp.2008.27.6.576
[56] Meeks, S., & Depp, C. A. (2002). Pleasant events-based behavioral interventions for depression in nursing residents: A conceptual and empirical foundation. Clinical Gerontologist, 25, 125-148. doi:10.1300/J018v25n01_07
[57] Meier, A., & Edwards, H. (1974). Purpose in life test: Age and sex differences. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 30, 384-386. doi:10.1002/1097-4679(197407)30:3<384::AID-JCLP2270300351>3.0.CO;2-V
[58] Moomal, Z. (1999). The relationship between meaning in life and mental well-being. South African Journal of Psychology, 29, 36-41.
[59] Newcomb, M. D., & Harlow, L. L. (1986). Life events and substance use among adolescents: Mediating effects of perceived loss of control and meaninglessness in life. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 51, 564-577. doi:10.1037/0022-3514.51.3.564
[60] Owens, G. P., Steger, M. F., Whitesell, A. A., & Herrera, C. J. (2009). Posttraumatic stress disorder, guilt, depression, and meaning in life among military veterans. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 22, 654-657.
[61] Pichot, P., Boyer, P., Pull, C. B., Rein, W., Simon, M., & Thibault, A. (1984). Un questionnaire d’auto-évaluation de la symptomatologie dépressive, le questionnaire QD2, I. Construction, structure factorielle et propriétés métrologiques. Revue de Psychologie Appliquée, 34, 229-250.
[62] Prior, P. M. (1999). Gender and mental health. Basingstoke and London: Macmillan Press.
[63] Reinherz, H., Giaconia, R., Hauf, A., Wasserman, M., & Paradis, A. (2000). General and specific childhood risk factors for depression and drug disorders by early adulthood. Journal of the American Academy of Child Adolescent Psychiatry, 39, 223-231. doi:10.1097/00004583-200002000-00023
[64] Reker, G. T., & Cousins, J. B. (1979). Factor structure, construct validity and reliability of the Seeking of Noetic Goals (SONG) and Purpose in Life (PIL) Tests. Journal of Clinical Psychology, 35, 85-91. doi:10.1002/1097-4679(197901)35:1<85::AID-JCLP2270350110>3.0.CO;2-R
[65] Robak, R. W., & Griffin, P. W. (2000). Purpose in life: What is its relationship to happiness, depression, and grieving? North American Journal of Psychology, 2, 113-119.
[66] Routledge, C., & Juhl, J. (2010). When death thoughts lead to death fears: Mortality salience increases death anxiety for individuals who lack meaning in life. Cognition and Emotion, 24, 848-854. doi:10.1080/02699930902847144
[67] Rufflin, J. E. (1984). The anxiety of meaninglessness. Journal of Counseling and Development, 63, 40-42. doi:10.1002/j.1556-6676.1984.tb02678.x
[68] Saroglou, V., & Fiasse, L. (2003). Birth order, personality, and religion: A study among young adults from a three-sibling family. Personality & Individual Differences, 35, 19-29. doi:10.1016/S0191-8869(02)00137-X
[69] Shek, D. T. L. (1992). Meaning in life and psychological well-being: An empirical study using the Chinese version of the Purpose in Life Questionnaire. The Journal of Genetic Psychology, 153, 185-200.
[70] Simonelli, L. A., Fowler, J., Maxwell, G. L., & Andersen, B. L. (2008). Physical sequelae and depressive symptoms in gynecologic cancer survivors: Meaning in life as a mediator. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 35, 275-284. doi:10.1007/s12160-008-9029-8
[71] Smith, B. W., & Zautra, A. J. (2004). The role of purpose in life in recovery from knee surgery. International Journal of Behavioral Medicine, 11, 197-202. doi:10.1207/s15327558ijbm1104_2
[72] Stolovy, T., Lev-Wiesel, R., Adiel, D., & Gelkopf, M. (2009). The meaning in life for hospitalized patients with schizophrenia. Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease, 197, 133-135. doi:10.1097/NMD.0b013e3181963ede
[73] Thompson, E. H. Jr., Noone, M. E., & Guarino, A. B. (2003). Widows’ spiritual journeys: Do they quest? [special issue]. Journal of Religious Gerontology, 14, 119-138. doi:10.1300/J078v14n02_03
[74] Thompson, N. J., Coker, J., & Krause, J. S. (2003). Purpose in life as a mediator of adjustment after spinal cord injury. Rehabilitation Psychology, 48, 100-108. doi:10.1037/0090-5550.48.2.100
[75] Tzonichaki, I., & Kleftaras, G. (1998). Etude comparative entre sujets jeunes et agés, concernant la dépression et le “lieu de contr?le”. Journal d’Ergothérapie, 20, 49-55.
[76] Visser, A., Garssen, B., & Vingerhoets, A. (2010). Spirituality and well-being in cancer patients: A review. Psycho-oncology, 19, 565- 572. doi:10.1002/pon.1626
[77] Waite, R., & Calamaro, C. (2009). Cultural competency—Culture and depression: A case example of a young african american man. Perspectives in Psychiatric Care, 45, 232-238. doi:10.1111/j.1744-6163.2009.00226.x
[78] Westerhof, G. J., Bohlmeijer, E. T., Van Beljouw, I. M. J., & Margriet, A. (2010). Improvement in personal meaning mediates the effects of a life review intervention on depressive symptoms in a randomized controlled trial. Gerontologist, 50, 541-549. doi:10.1093/geront/gnp168
[79] Whiteman, S. D., McHale, S. M., & Crouter, A. C. (2003). What par- ents learn from experience: The first child as a first draft? Journal if Marriage & Family, 65, 608-621. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2003.00608.x
[80] Yang, W., Staps, T., & Hijmans, E. (2010). Existential crisis and the awareness of dying: The role of meaning and spirituality. Omega- Journal of Death and Dying, 61, 53-69. doi:10.2190/OM.61.1.c
[81] Young, A., Klap, R., Sherbourne, C., & Wells, K. (2001). The quality of care for depressive and anxiety disorders in the United States. Ar- chives of General Psychiatry, 58, 55-61. doi:10.1001/archpsyc.58.1.55
[82] Zeitchik, G. (2001). The construct validity of the purpose in life test: Quantifying Victor Frankl’s “Will to Meaning”. Dissertation Ab- stracts International: Section B: The Sciences & Engineering, 61, 5049.

  
comments powered by Disqus

Copyright © 2018 by authors and Scientific Research Publishing Inc.

Creative Commons License

This work and the related PDF file are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.