Background: About 20% of major depressive episodes become chronic and medication-refractory and also appear to be less responsive to standard cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT).
Aims: To test whether CBT developed from behavioural activation principles that explicitly and exclusively targets depressive rumination enhances treatment as usual (TAU) in reducing residual depression.
Method: Forty-two consecutively recruited participants meeting criteria for medication-refractory residual depression were randomly allocated to TAU v. TAU plus up to 12 sessions of individual rumination-focused CBT. The trial has been registered (ISRCTN22782150).
Results: Adding rumination-focused CBT to TAU significantly improved residual symptoms and remission rates. Treatment effects were mediated by change in rumination.
Conclusions: This is the first randomised controlled trial providing evidence of benefits of rumination-focused CBT in persistent depression. Although suggesting the internal validity of rumination-focused CBT for residual depression, the trial lacked an attentional control group so cannot test whether the effects were as a result of the specific content of rumination-focused CBT v. non-specific therapy effects.