Cognitive reactivity, dysfunctional attitudes, and depressive relapse and recurrence in cognitive therapy responders

Robin B. Jarrett, Abu Minhajuddin, Patricia D. Borman, Lauren Dunlap, Zindel V. Segal, Cindy L. Kidner, Edward S. Friedman, Michael E. Thase

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

51 Scopus citations


Dysfunctional attitudes can foreshadow depressive relapse/recurrence. Priming mood, through induction paradigms, is hypothesized to activate dysfunctional attitudes. Cognitive reactivity (CR) refers to mood-linked increases in dysfunctional attitudes after priming. Here we explored the extent to which CR as well as residual, unprimed, dysfunctional attitudes predicted depressive relapse/recurrence among depressed patients who responded to acute phase cognitive therapy (CT). Consenting adults, aged 18-70, with recurrent major depressive disorder (n = 523) participated in a two-site randomized controlled trial examining the durability of continuation phase treatments. Patients received 16-20 sessions of CT. Among the 245 incompletely remitted responders, 213 agreed to undergo a mood induction paradigm. After 8 months of continuation phase treatments, participants were followed an additional 24 months. Although the mood induction significantly lowered mood in 80% of responders, the expected CR was not evident. By contrast, higher unprimed dysfunctional attitudes following CT did predict relapse/recurrence over 20 and 32 months post-randomization. The findings of this large longitudinal study of incompletely remitted CT responders challenge the notion that it is necessary to prime mood in order to maximize dysfunctional attitudes' prediction of relapse and/or recurrence. While findings cannot be generalized beyond CT responders, they emphasize the clinical importance of reducing dysfunctional attitudes in preventing depression.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)280-286
Number of pages7
JournalBehaviour Research and Therapy
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 2012


  • Cognitive reactivity
  • Cognitive therapy
  • Depression
  • Dysfunctional attitudes
  • Mood induction

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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