Change in Daily Life Behaviors and Depression: Within-Person and Between-Person Associations

Evelien Snippe*, Claudia J. P. Simons, Jessica A. Hartmann, Claudia Menne-Lothmann, Ingrid Kramer, Sanne H. Booij, Wolfgang Viechtbauer, Philippe Delespaul, Inez Myin-Germeys, Marieke Wichers

*Corresponding author for this work

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Objective: This study examined associations between daily physical, sedentary, social, and leisure behaviors and depressive symptoms (a) at a macrolevel, over the course of an Experience Sampling (ESM) self-monitoring intervention, and (b) at a microlevel, by examining daily within-person associations. Second, we examined the effects of the ESM self-monitoring intervention on these daily life behaviors. Methods: Individuals with a diagnosis of depression (N = 102) receiving pharmacological treatment were randomized to 1 of 2 six-week ESM intervention conditions or a control condition. Physical, sedentary, social, and leisure behaviors as well as depressive symptoms were assessed prospectively in every-day life at baseline, postintervention, and during the ESM interventions. Results: Change in physical activity and talking from baseline to postintervention was associated with change in depressive symptoms from baseline to postintervention. Within-person daily fluctuations in talking, physical activity, doing nothing/resting, and being alone predicted end-of-day depressive symptoms over and above depressive symptoms at the previous day. The ESM interventions contributed to change in talking, doing nothing/resting, and being alone over time in comparison with the control group. The analyses revealed individual differences in the amount of behavioral change over time and in the within-subject associations between daily behaviors and depressive symptoms. Conclusions: The findings suggest that physical, sedentary, and social behaviors have affective implications for daily mental health of individuals with depression. Self-monitoring using ESM may be a useful add-on tool to achieve behavioral change and to gain personalized insight in behaviors that improve daily depressive symptoms.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)433-441
JournalHealth Psychology
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2016


  • ambulatory monitoring
  • depression
  • motor activity
  • sedentary lifestyle
  • social behavior

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