Remembering or knowing how we felt: Depression and anxiety symptoms predict retrieval processes during emotional self-report.

Researchers and clinicians routinely rely on patients’ retrospective emotional self-reports to guide diagnosis and treatment, despite evidence of impaired autobiographical memory and retrieval of emotional information in depression and anxiety. To clarify the nature and specificity of these impairments, we conducted two large online data collections (Study 1, N = 1,983; Study 2, N = 900) examining whether depression and/or anxiety symptoms would uniquely predict the use of self-reported episodic (i.e., remembering) and/or semantic (i.e., knowing) retrieval when rating one’s positive and negative emotional experiences over different time frames. Participants were randomly assigned to one of six time frames (ranging from at this moment to last few years) and were asked to rate how intensely they felt each of four emotions, anxious, sad, calm, and happy, over that period. Following each rating, they were asked several follow-up prompts assessing their perceived reliance on episodic and/or semantic information to rate how they felt, using procedures adapted from the traditional “remember/know” paradigm (Tulving, 1985). Across both studies, depression and anxiety symptoms each uniquely predicted increased likelihood of remembering across emotion types, and decreased likelihood of knowing how one felt when rating positive emotion types. Implications for the theory and treatment of emotion-related memory disturbances in depression and anxiety, and for dual-process theories of memory retrieval more generally, are discussed. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2019 APA, all rights reserved)