Defense Mechanisms in “Pure” Anxiety and “Pure” Depressive Disorders

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Abstract

Our study was intended to test whether there are any differences in the way defense mechanisms are used by patients suffering from pure anxiety and those with pure depressive disorders. The sample size was as follows: depressive disorders without psychotic symptoms 30, anxiety disorders 30, and the healthy control group 30. The assessment of defense mechanisms was made using the DSQ-40 questionnaire. Our findings show that “pure” anxiety disorders differ from “pure” depressive disorders only in the use of immature defense mechanisms. The group with depressive disorders was significantly more prone to use immature defense mechanisms than the group with anxiety disorders (p = 0.005), primarily projection (p = 0.001) and devaluation (p = 0.003). These defense mechanisms may therefore be used both to differentiate between anxiety and depressive disorders and also to determine which symptoms (anxiety or depressive disorders) are dominant at any given stage of treatment.

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