BACKGROUND: One-third of patients with depression do not respond satisfactorily to treatment, and approximately 20% of all patients treated for depression develop a chronic depression. One approach to more effective treatment of chronic and treatment-resistant depression is to target rumination - an underlying mechanism implicated in the development and maintenance of depression.
AIM: The purpose of this uncontrolled group study was to investigate the feasibility of individual rumination-focused cognitive behavioural therapy (RfCBT) for patients with chronic and treatment-resistant depression.
METHOD: A total of 10 patients with chronic and treatment-resistant depression were offered 12-16 individual sessions of RfCBT. The primary outcome was depressive symptoms as measured by Hamilton Depression Scale at pre-, post- and 3-month follow-up. Secondary symptoms measured included self-reported rumination and worry.
RESULTS: There was a significant reduction in depressive symptoms (p < 0.05), rumination (p < 0.01) and worry (p < 0.5) from pre- to post-treatment. Half of the participants (n = 5) showed significant reliable change on levels of depressive symptoms post-treatment. The reduction in depressive symptoms, rumination and worry were maintained at follow-up.
CONCLUSIONS: RfCBT was associated with significant reductions in depressive symptoms in a small sample with chronic and treatment-resistant depression. Despite limitations of being a small uncontrolled study with limited follow-up, these results are promising in a difficult to treat population. RfCBT warrants further systematic evaluation.