Early maladaptive schemas in depressed patients: Stability and relation with depressive symptoms over the course of treatment

F. Renner*, J. Lobbestael, F. Peeters, A.R. Arntz, M.J.H. Huibers

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


Background: Early maladaptive schemas (EMSs) are hypothesized to be stable, trait-like, enduring beliefs underlying chronic and recurrent psychological disorders. We studied the relation of EMSs with depressive symptom severity and tested the stability of EMSs over a course of evidence-based outpatient treatment for depression in a naturalistic treatment setting. Methods: The sample consisted of depressed outpatients (N=132) treated at a specialized mood disorders treatment unit in The Netherlands. Participants completed measures of depressive symptom severity and maladaptive schemas before treatment and 16-weeks after starting with treatment. Results: Specific maladaptive schemas (failure, emotional deprivation, abandonment/instability) were cross-sectionally related to depressive symptom severity. Moreover, the schema domain impaired autonomy & performance at pre-treatment related positively to depression levels at the 16-week follow-up assessment, whereas the schema domain overvigilance & inhibition at pre-treatment related negatively to depression levels at the follow-up assessment when controlling for pre-treatment depression severity. Finally, all EMSs demonstrated good relative stability over the course of treatment Conclusions: Our results suggest that specific EMSs are related to depressive symptom severity in clinically depressed patients, that specific schema domains predict treatment outcome, and that schemas are robust to change over time, even after evidence-based outpatient treatment for depression. (C) 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)581-590
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Affective Disorders
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2012


  • Depression
  • Early maladaptive schemas
  • Core beliefs
  • Cognitive vulnerability


Dive into the research topics of 'Early maladaptive schemas in depressed patients: Stability and relation with depressive symptoms over the course of treatment'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this