Quality of life after response to acute-phase cognitive therapy for recurrent depression

Jeffrey R. Vittengl, Manish K. Jha, Abu Minhajuddin, Michael E. Thase, Robin B. Jarrett

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Background: Adults with major depressive disorder (MDD) often experience reduced quality of life (QOL). Efficacious acute-phase treatments, including cognitive therapy (CT) or medication, decrease depressive symptoms and, to a lesser degree, increase QOL. We tested longer-term changes in QOL after response to acute-phase CT, including the potential effects of continuation treatment for depression and time-lagged relations between QOL and depressive symptoms. Methods: Responders to acute-phase CT (N = 290) completed QOL and depressive symptom assessments repeatedly for 32 post-acute months. Higher-risk responders were randomized to 8 months of continuation treatment (CT, fluoxetine, or pill placebo) and then entered a 24-month follow-up. Lower-risk responders were only assessed for 32 months. Results: On average, large gains in QOL made during acute-phase CT response were maintained for 32 months. Continuation CT or fluoxetine did not improve QOL relative to pill placebo. Controlling for residual depressive symptoms, higher QOL after acute-phase CT response was a protective factor against MDD relapse and recurrence. Higher QOL predicted subsequent reductions in depressive symptom severity, but depressive symptom severity did not predict subsequent changes in QOL. Limitations: Generalization of results to other patient populations, treatments, and measures is uncertain. The clinical trial was not designed to test relations between QOL and depression. Replication is needed before clinical application of these results. Conclusions: Gains in QOL made during response to acute-phase CT are relatively stable and may help protect against relapse/recurrence. Continuation CT or fluoxetine may not further improve QOL among acute-phase CT responders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-225
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of affective disorders
StatePublished - Jan 1 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • Cognitive therapy
  • Continuation treatment
  • Pharmacotherapy
  • Quality of life

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Psychology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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