Metta-based therapy for chronic depression: a wait list control trial

  • Objectives: Current treatments for chronic depression have focused on reducing interpersonal problems and negative affect, but paid little attention to promoting prosocial motivation and positive affect. Following this treatment focus, the objective of the present study was to examine whether the combination of metta (Loving Kindness) group meditation and subsequent tailored individual therapy focusing on kindness towards oneself and others (metta-based therapy, MBT) shows greater improvements in depressive symptoms than a wait list control group in patients with chronic depression. Methods: Forty-eight patients with DSM-5 persistent depressive disorder were randomly assigned to MBT or a wait list control condition. Outcome was assessed after group meditation, after subsequent individual therapy, and at 6-month follow-up. The primary outcome measure was an independent blind rating of depressive symptoms at post-test. Secondary outcome included changes in self-reported depression, behavioral activation, rumination, social functioning, mindfulness, compassion, and clinician-rated emotion regulation. Results: Mixed-design analyses showed significant differences between MBT and WLC in changes from pre- to post-test in clinician-rated and self-rated depression, behavioral activation, rumination, social functioning, mindfulness, and emotion regulation. Most of the changes occurred during group meditation and were associated with large effect sizes. Improvements were maintained at 6-month follow-up. Conclusions: The results provide preliminary support for the effectiveness of MBT in treating chronic depression. Trial Registration: ISRCTN, ISRCTN97264476.
Author:Ulrich StangierORCiDGND, Artjom FrickORCiDGND, Isabel Thinnes, Elisabeth A. Arens, Stefan G. Hofmann
Parent Title (English):Mindfulness
Place of publication:Berlin ; Heidelberg ; New York, NY
Document Type:Article
Date of Publication (online):2021/10/08
Date of first Publication:2021/10/08
Publishing Institution:Universitätsbibliothek Johann Christian Senckenberg
Release Date:2022/02/09
Tag:Chronic depression; Cognitive behavioral therapy; Loving kindness; Metta; Mindfulness meditation; Persistent depressive disorder
Page Number:14
First Page:2929
Last Page:2942
Dr. Hofmann receives financial support from the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation, NIH/NCCIH (R01AT007257), NIH/NIMH (R01MH099021, U01MH108168), and the James S. McDonnell Foundation 21st Century Science Initiative in Understanding Human Cognition – Special Initiative.
Institutes:Psychologie und Sportwissenschaften
Dewey Decimal Classification:1 Philosophie und Psychologie / 15 Psychologie / 150 Psychologie
Licence (German):License LogoCreative Commons - Namensnennung 4.0