Rumination-focused cognitive behaviour therapy for non-responsive chronic depression: an uncontrolled group study

Stine Bjerrum Moeller*, Stephen F Austin, Morten Hvenegaard, Morten Kistrup, Stine Gran, Ed Watkins

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBehavioural and Cognitive Psychotherapy
Issue number3
Pages (from-to)376-381
Publication statusPublished - May 2020


  • chronic treatment-resistant depression
  • rumination
  • rumination-focused cognitive behaviour therapy
  • uncontrolled group study
  • worry


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