Background: Little is understood about the conceptual relationship of depression and quality of life (QoL). Judgments concerning both, implicitly or explicitly, involve a time perspective. The aim of this study was to test de Leval's theoretical model linking depression and QoL with a time perspective. The model predicts that changes in cognitions about one's past, present and future QoL, will be associated with changes in depressive symptomatology.
Methods: Eighteen psychiatric in-patients with a clinically confirmed diagnosis of depression were assessed on commencing treatment and 12 weeks later. QoL was assessed by the Schedule for Evaluation of Individual Quality of Life (SEIQoL), depression by the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI-II) and hopelessness by the Beck Hopelessness Scale (BHS). Time perspective was incorporated by asking QoL questions about the past, present and future.
Results: Depression and hopelessness were associated with a poorer present QoL. Depression lowered present QoL but did not alter future QoL, as these remained consistently high whether participants were depressed or recovering. However, depressed individuals had a larger gap between their actual present QoL and future (aspired to) QoL. Changes in QoL were influenced by depression and hopelessness. Contrary to the model, perception of "past" QoL was not affected by depression or hopelessness.
Conclusions: de Leval's model was largely confirmed. Thus depression and hopelessness influence a person's present and future QoL. The analysis of a temporal horizon was helpful in understanding the link between depression and QoL.