Daily life stress reactivity in remitted versus non-remitted depressed individuals

M. van Winkel*, N. A. Nicolson, M. Wichers, W. Viechtbauer, I. Myin-Germeys, F. Peeters

*Corresponding author for this work

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Background: Little is known about how daily life mood reactivity to minor stressors (stress reactivity) might change following major depressive disorder (MDD) treatment. We investigate whether (i) mood states and appraisals of daily stressors change after treatment; (ii) stress reactivity to event, activity, or social stress differs; (iii) stress reactivity depends on severity of residual depressive symptoms; and (iv) stress reactivity in individuals with remitted or non-remitted depression differ from that of never-depressed individuals. Methods: Thirty depressed individuals participated in an experience sampling study before and after a treatment period of 18 months; 39 healthy individuals formed a comparison group. Reactivity of positive affect (PA) and negative affect (NA) to daily stressors were measured. Results: More residual symptoms were associated with larger NA responses to stress. Compared to healthy controls, participants with non-remitted MDD showed higher NA-reactivity to all stressors. In contrast, stress reactivity to event and activity stressors was normalized in remitted patients. However, they still showed heightened NA-reactivity to social stress. Conclusions: Greater stress reactivity to event and activity stress appears to be state-dependent. The heightened social stress reactivity in remitted patients suggests that sensitivity to social stress may reflect an underlying vulnerability in MDD.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)441-447
JournalEuropean Psychiatry
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2015


  • Major depressive disorder
  • Stress reactivity
  • Experience sampling method
  • Daily life
  • MDD treatment

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